Townsville misses out on energy price war

The LNP has slammed the State Government’s plan to offer electricity price discounts in southeast Queensland, describing it as a “kick in the guts” for consumers in the North who would see no benefit.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced the government-owned CS Energy would enter into a partnership with Alinta Energy in a bid to bring down prices.

The new venture will offer a 25 per cent discount over two years to new customers in the Energex distribution area of the southeast of the state in the hope of forcing a price war.

But Opposition leader Tim Nicholls said the plan showed the Government was focused on southeast Queensland rather than the regions.

He said electricity prices in regional Queensland were set by the Queensland Competition Authority and based on prices in the southeast corner.

“(The announcement) will have zero impact outside of southeast Queensland,” Mr Nicholls said. “The way the price is set, discounts aren’t taken into account.

“In Townsville people are stuck with Ergon and if they do want to change they can’t.”

Mr Nicholls said the LNP supported construction of a baseload coal-fired power station in North Queensland.

He said it could be highly efficient and include carbon capture and storage technology to reduce emissions.

“That would put a downwards pressure on electricity prices,” he said.

Mr Nicholls said Labor had taken its eye off the ball regarding Townsville.

“It’s a real kick in the guts for regional Queenslanders that they won’t see the price come down,” he said.

Labor’s Townsville MP Scott Stewart agreed the announcement would not impact prices in North Queensland.

But he spoke in support of the State Government’s $386 million Powering North Queensland plan to secure energy supply and drive down prices by unlocking a wave of renewable energy projects.

The investment announced in the State Budget is aimed at connecting solar, wind and hydro-electricity projects to the energy grid.

“We’re looking into the future. A coal-powered station will cost $3 billion and take 10 years to build,” he said. “We need to connect energy systems we have now. They are much quicker to build and will provide the energy we need.”

Mr Stewart supported the current price structure in which North Queensland consumers had access to subsided energy prices. “We have to make sure they (energy prices) are comparable,” he said.

Originally posted on the Townsville Bulletin.  You can read the full article by Andrew Backhouse HERE.


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