POWER STRUGGLES: Glenmore Seafoods owner Mark Bush has a $85000 yearly electricity bill.
POWER STRUGGLES: Glenmore Seafoods owner Mark Bush has a $85000 yearly electricity bill. Allan Reinikka ROK031117abush1

Cost of electricity in CQ stirs debate on coal-fired power

THE cost of power is one of the most pressing issues being fought over during this state election campaign.

Glenmore Seafoods owner Mark Bush consumes a lot of power keeping his seafood fresh and he told a worrying story on Tuesday about being on the wrong side of power prices.

"We're struggling as a lot of small Central Queensland businesses are with power.

"It has done nothing but go up and up in the last five years.

"We've put solar on two of our premises and it didn't stop it going up."

He said they were paying roughly $80,000-85,000 per year in power costs.

"And that's a lot to get back out of your business," he said.

Northern Australia Minister Senator Matt Canavan said Mr Bush was suffering along with many businesses in the region from high power prices.


Senator Matt Canavan With LNP candidate for Keppel Peter Blundell and LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers.
Senator Matt Canavan With LNP candidate for Keppel Peter Blundell and LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers (left). Allan Reinikka ROK011117acanavan

"We've seen them in Queensland go up by 70 per cent in the wholesale market since this government's been in charge," Mr Canavan said.

"There should be no justification for that because we've got all the coal and gas here in Queensland, we should have some of the cheapest power prices in the world and we did before the Labor government came into power.

"What we're about in the Liberal National Party is bringing down people's power bills, I don't care how it happens, whatever we can be doing to bring down people's power bills is what we should be doing."

Senator Canavan claimed Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Labor Government had been secretly sitting on a leaked report for the past eight months that could bring down people's power bills by building a coal-fired power station.

The report Mr Canavan was referring to, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Water Supply, has found the proposed new "ultra-supercritical'' power station would be profitable under certain circumstances.

The Consultants Energy Edge in their February report concluded that under current wholesale power and coal prices, a new-generation plant of 750 megawatts would cover its costs and be valued at more than $730 million.

Both the LNP and One Nation parties are vocal in their support for the construction of a coal-fired power station in North Queensland which Mr Canavan estimated would take three to five years to build, costing $2-3 billion.

The LNP announced a policy last year to "facilitate the development'' of the private-sector power station, citing North Queensland was being stung by power transmission costs, with the most northern coal-fired power station being in Rockhampton and they had three private-sector proponents who had expressed interest in building the multi-billion- dollar power station if there was a change of government.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls said a profitable entrant into the market would ensure greater competition and drive down power prices.

"The LNP will build with the private sector a high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired power station in North Queensland to increase energy security and lower wholesale electricity prices," Mr Nicholls said.

"More supply and cheaper electricity is a central plank of the LNP's economic plan to create 500,000 jobs over 10 years."

Energy Minister Mark Bailey hit back at the findings of the report which he said showed a ultra-supercritical (USC) plant in North Queensland would only be viable under sustained high wholesale energy prices and no threat of a carbon price over the 40-year life of the plant.


SOLAR SURGE: Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply Mark Bailey speaks at the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise National Energy Summit.
Minister for Energy Mark Bailey says a coal-fired power station is not what the state needs to bring down power prices Contributed

"If the LNP and One Nation are basing their coal-fired power plant plans on this report, they are signing Queenslanders up to an unknown increase in Queensland electricity prices for four decades," Mr Bailey said.

"It's ironic that Tim Nicholls and the LNP who gave Queenslanders a 43% hike in their electricity prices over three years, now wants the chance to lock in higher prices for 40 years.

"Only Labor has stabilised electricity prices and introduced a plan to cap prices to CPI increases, because we are committed to public ownership of electricity generation, poles and wires and we are delivering an electricity mix that includes coal, gas and solar energy."

Mr Bailey said the report highlighted that there were significant risks associated with the development of a USC plant.

This included the real risk of it becoming stranded - or being a white elephant -- due to changing market conditions including the increasing uptake of renewables and the introduction of a carbon price which would inhibit the plant's ability to obtain finance and maintain value over the life of the plant.

"Energy experts and industry investors won't back building a new coal-fired power station in Queensland proving the policy a dud," Mr Bailey said.

"While I did not commission or review it, the report and the advice to the Director-General confirms what the Palaszczuk Government, energy experts, industry and even the Prime Minister and Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison have been saying all along.

"Energy experts and industry investors won't back building a new coal-fired power station in Queensland proving the policy a dud that will end up being bad news for Queenslanders for 40 years."

Mr Bailey said it had been more than a decade since there's been any investment in new coal-fired generation in the National Electricity Market.

"The Australian Energy Council said just last week that the push for a new coal-fired power station in North Qld "doesn't make any sense," he said

"The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison also said new cheap coal is a myth, a new HELE plant would cost $3 billion and take seven years to turn up.

"There is a reason why there is a renewable energy boom is happening in Queensland right now and not a coal-fired power station boom."

Mr Bailey said Queensland was reaping the benefits of renewable investment kick-started by the Palaszczuk Government because they had the policy settings right through their 50% Renewable Energy Target.

"Renewables are now the cheapest form of new energy generation to build and the Renewable Energy Expert Panel has shown our RET will have a cost neutral impact on power prices," Mr Bailey said.

"There are 24 large scale renewable projects either operating, under construction or financially committed supporting almost 3,000 direct construction jobs in Queensland, mostly in our regions, providing a $3.7 billion investment."