PM’s incredible coal-fired power plant move for QLD
THE Morrison Government has given its strongest backing yet for a new coal-fired power plant as it seeks to boost baseload reliability and support jobs in north Queensland.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the government will spend up to $4 million on a business case for a high efficiency, low emissions plant at Collinsville, about 250km south of Townsville.
The funding will come from a $10 million election commitment to support new energy generation in central and North Queensland and represents the Government's strongest show of support for thermal coal after it was a divisive issue at the last federal election.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said an independent strategic study had raised concerns about "system strength" in the region, making new "synchronous generation" a priority to ensure high-energy businesses such as aluminium smelters could operate.
"Our plan to unlock investment in new, reliable generation capacity will increase competition, keep the lights on, and lower prices to better support our commercial and industrial sector so they can employ more Australians and remain internationally competitive," he said.
Indigenous-owned Shine Energy, which has proposed to build the plant in the Whitsundays, will prepare the business case to determine if the project is commercially viable.
The announcement comes just days after the Collinsville project's biggest backer in the Government, Senator Matt Canavan, resigned as Resources Minister during a National Party leadership dispute.
The Morrison Government will also announce $2 million for a pre-feasibility study for a proposed 1.5 gigawatt pumped hydro-electric plant located between Collinsville, Proserpine and Mackay.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Government was committed to supporting projects that drove prices down and bolstered system strength.
"The Liberal and Nationals Government is ensuring households, businesses and industries get a fair deal on energy, keeping our economy strong," he said.
"We are supporting two promising new generation projects to deliver the reliable, affordable power that the north Queensland economy needs to grow and thrive."
New Resources and North Queensland Minister Keith Pitt said the investment would help ensure reliable and cheap electricity was available when the system needed it.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she had fought hard to see the projects and was glad to see money to "support job-creating projects".
"While it is important we have reliable baseload power, projects such as these will help create more jobs and cheaper energy for hardworking families," she said.
The Government is also set announce $1.5 million to work with the Queensland Government and industry on electrifying Curtis Island LNG facilities, near Gladstone, freeing up more natural gas for domestic use.