The Queensland Government has announced a new plan to invest $386 million  in a range of energy projects, aimed at boosting the North Queensland economy and support 5000 jobs.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk,  announced the Powering North Queensland plan as a part of the 2017 State Budget.

“Our plan will not only deliver investment and jobs to North Queensland but will also help to secure energy supply and drive down energy costs for consumers,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Under the plan, we will deliver a transmission line for renewable energy projects across the region and contribute funding to the proposed hydroelectric power station at Burdekin Falls Dam.

“The $386 million committed in the State Budget is a down payment on future energy security and 5000 jobs for North Queensland.”

Actions under the Powering North Queensland plan include:

  • $150 million reinvestment of Powerlink dividends for the development of strategic transmission infrastructure to support a clean energy hub, with up to 1000 jobs for Powerlink construction of infrastructure, in addition to the approximately 3600 jobs that will be created in the development of the three proposed renewable energy projects along the transmission line
  • $100 million reinvestment of Stanwell dividends to help fund the proposed hydroelectric power station at Burdekin Falls Dam. Subject to feasibility investigations and other dam construction works, project construction will be targeted to commence from 2020, and support up to 200 jobs
  • $100 million equity injection and reinvestment of dividends towards improvement works to ensure that the Burdekin Falls Dam continues to meet design standards, which is estimated to support around 250 jobs, and will support the proposed hydroelectric power station
  • Commissioning a hydroelectric study to assess options for deploying new hydro in the state, including North Queensland

Ms Palaszczuk said the Government was making these vital, economy-growing investments on behalf of Queenslanders by reinvesting the SunWater dividend, and part of Powerlink and Stanwell dividends.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, Curtis Pitt, said these 2017-18 Budget initiatives underlined the Government’s ongoing commitment to investing in regional communities, renewable energy, and jobs.

“We’re ensuring our Government owned corporations are delivering new energy infrastructure and energy security to drive new investments in energy projects and new jobs in regional Queensland,” Mr Pitt said.

”This extensive pipeline of clean energy projects is also opening the door for the region to become a hub for the renewable manufacturing and services industry.

“This plan will power North Queensland’s communities and its industries with energy and jobs for the future and it will help further stabilise electricity prices.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the state’s north had a significant pipeline of committed and proposed energy projects which would bolster generation.

“Since January 2016, North Queensland has seen an unprecedented level of renewable energy investment activity, with more than 830MW of large-scale projects either commencing construction or finalising commercial arrangements,”Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It is estimated these projects will deliver $1.6 billion of infrastructure spending and create more than 1400 jobs.”

Ms Palaszczuk said a new transmission line could help to unlock around 2000MW of wind, pumped hydro and solar projects in North Queensland, which would create 3600 jobs.

“The clean energy hub would connect the 75MW wind farm at Forsayth being developed by Infigen, the 520MW Kidston Hydro and Solar project being developed by Genex ,and the Kennedy Energy Park, a combination of wind and solar generation with a capacity of 1200MW near Hughenden or other projects in the area.”

Mr Bailey said the plan also involved investigating potential hydro sites in North Queensland, and across the state, that could be developed to provide baseload renewable power.

“This extensive pipeline of clean energy projects will open the door for the north to become a hub for the renewable manufacturing and services industry,” Mr Bailey said.

“This plan will power North Queensland’s communities and industries with the energy and jobs of the future.”

Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, Coralee O’Rourke, said the Powering North Queensland plan builds on the Queensland Government’s ongoing efforts to stabilise electricity prices for regional Queensland.

“We know people in the north are really concerned about power prices. An important part in stabilising prices is making sure we invest in local, North Queensland infrastructure,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Excitingly, the transmission line will support an Energy Hub that will generate North Queensland energy for North Queensland businesses and families.

“Our long-term energy strategy for the north will also mean jobs for our regions.”

Minister Bailey said a lack of federal leadership on climate and energy policy had created uncertainty for industry which has undermined investment, and prevented new supply coming online.

“The Palaszczuk Government is taking action and we have kick-started a renewable energy boom,” he said.

“With additional generation competition and supply – we can help put downward pressure on prices which is great news for all Queenslanders.”

Utility Journalist

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