Candidates on: Kurri Kurri Gas Plant

Filed in Just In by May 21, 2021

THE Federal Government has confirmed Snowy Hydro Limited will build a $600 million gas fired power plant at Kurri Kurri to replace the market gap left by the Liddell Power Station closure in 2023.

The project first came to light last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave the private energy sector until April to meet a 1000 megawatt capacity requirement.

Morrison said failure to replace the capacity could result in a 30 percent price increase in electricity in two years, $20 per megawatt hour to $80 in 2024 and up to $105 per MWH by 2030.

The announcement came with controversy, with environmental groups arguing the government should be investing in renewable energy projects that provide more economic stability and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Here’s what the Upper Hunter by-election candidates had to say about the announcement.

Jeff Drayton, Labor Party:

Jeff Drayton said the Federal Government commitment to build a gas-fired power station in Kurri Kurri must come with a local jobs guarantee for Hunter Valley workers as well as a transfer scheme that creates job pathways for workers affected by closures of local coal mines or power stations.

“If the Federal Government is going to fund a gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley, I certainly welcome it. The Government should tell us how many on-going operational jobs it will create, after the construction phase,” Mr Drayton said.

“I’m also calling for a commitment to meet Labor’s ‘NSW Made’ policy to make sure local firms are prioritised in construction and development of the project,” he said.

Dale McNamara, One Nation Party:

Dale McNamara said the Kurri Kurri Gas Plant confirms the failure of the New South Wales Energy Plan and will be turned on when renewables are not doing the job and NSW faces blackouts and/or huge spikes in electricity prices.

“Last year when NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, with the full support of Labor, Nationals and the Greens, pushed his Electricity Roadmap through parliament, he promised a brave new world of private sector renewables investment in NSW. Six months later the truth is now clear: the Liberal/Nationals/Labor/Greens coalition has caused investment uncertainty and has no feasible way of keeping the lights on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing,” Mr McNamara said.

“This is why the Federal Government has had to step in today to fund an expensive gas-peaking plant at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley to fill the power generation gap left by Kean’s disastrous Roadmap,” he said.

“Nothing beats dispatchable 24/7 electricity supply to power up the NSW economy and jobs. This system has worked well for decades but now, in an act of economic self-harm, the Liberal/Nationals/Labor/Greens coalition has thrown it away,” he said.

Sue Abbott, The Greens:

Sue Abbott slammed the announcement, saying the government has blatantly ignored expert agency advice, and are willing to waste public money to raise people’s power bills .

“This proposed fossil-fuelled power station is a threat to the Upper Hunter, and the one thing it is not about is providing reliable power,” said Sue Abbott.

“Building a gas-fired power station is essentially guaranteeing a market to the hopelessly uneconomic Narrabri gasfields,” she said.

“In a carbon restricted world which, like it or not we are facing, this is pure madness and smacks of cronyism, it will not pay off in the long term,” she said.

Sue Gilroy, Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party:

Sue Gilroy questioned what other options have been explored by government and the value of the $600 million project.

“This is a significant investment and Public money should give public value,” Ms Gilroy said.

“It is up to government to demonstrate the value of this project and if they can’t do this, they lose the confidence of the people,” she said.

“Voters have legitimate questions about this project particularly around the Hunter gas pipeline. Government needs to answer these questions rather than steam rolling over people,” she said.

Eva Pears, Liberal Democratic Party: 

Eva Pears questioned the timing of the announcement and the long-term employment opportunities provided after the gas plant is constructed.

“While I think it’s great that many people will potential be employed during the construction of the gas plant, the long term economic viability is questionable as far as employment opportunities go,” Ms Pears said.

“Like most of the electorate, Im skeptical of promises made by governments days out from such an important election. I urge people to be mindful of these tactics when they are casting their vote,” she said.

David Layzell, Nationals Party:

David Layzell supports the announcement and said it will give security to businesses and local jobs during energy transition. 

“Energy has been a big part of the Upper Hunter and making sure that we’ve got new technology for new jobs,” Mr Layzell said.

“Supporting our current industry of producing energy out of this area is so important,” he said.

Callum Blair, Sustainable Australia Party:

Callum Blair said the government should focus on renewable energy and transition away from coal and gas markets.

Sustainable Australia Party opposes this absurd distortion of the energy market at a time we need to be transitioning away from coal and gas,” Mr Blair said.

“It’s time for the Liberal and National parties to accept that the market does not want new fossil fuel assets and to instead focus on renewable energy,” he said.

Independent candidates:

Kirsty O’Connell:

Kirsty O’Connell said the announcement is another example of party politicians failing to make sensible plans for the future.

“To me a gas fired power station is the equivalent of supporting the Walkman when the iPhone is available,” Ms O’Connell.

“We know that renewables are cheaper and that’s where our focus needs to be. The idea of spending public funds on old technology to build an asset that could foreseeably become stranded in the next decade or two is ridiculous,” she said.

Tracy Norrman:

Tracy Norman said the Kurri Kurri Gas Plant investment is a complete waste of taxpayer dollar.

“It has been reported recently that this gas fired power station would only need to operate one day a week to meet the low demand. This is a complete waste of tax payer dollar. Dinosaurs propping up the it fossil fuel industry mates,” Ms Norman said.

Archi Lea:

Archie Lea said the announcement is a “life saver” and is all for it.

“There’s just trying to keep the jobs going,” Mr Lea said.

“They’ll be pretty strict with the rules but I’m all for it,” he said.

Kate Fraser:

Kate Fraser also questioned the amount of jobs available after construction and timing of the announcement.

“I’s interesting that the information was released when it was. It may well be trying to bolster up the State vote in the lower part of the electorate,” Ms Fraser said.

“I’m surprised there’s any fat left on the pig,” she said.

Independent candidate Steve Reynolds and Animal Justice Party candidate Michael Dello-Jocavo were contacted for comment.

For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.

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