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New Energy Security Taskforce prepares Queensland for summer

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PRESS RELEASE

Securing Queensland’s future energy supply was the number one agenda item when the newly commissioned Queensland Energy Security Taskforce met for the first time today.

The Taskforce, recently announced as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $1.16 billion Powering Queensland Plan, will guide the state’s robust energy security for both the short and long-term and will be tasked with implementing the COAG Energy Council agreed Finkel NEM Review recommendations.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was taking action and would not sit idly by and watch the Federal Government continue to undermine the Queensland economy through policy paralysis.

“The lack of federal policy leadership has undermined industry investment which has led to an increase of electricity prices across the nation. This is clearly unacceptable,” Mr Bailey said.

“We know the National Electricity Market (NEM) is broken – it’s not serving industry, consumers or governments – and it’s not designed for the energy market of 2017 and onwards.

“Recent increases in wholesale prices have been driven by increases in industrial demand, the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and summer heatwaves.”

Mr Bailey said the first priority for the Taskforce, chaired by former Energex CEO, and panel member of the Finkel Review Mr Terry Effeney, will be to develop summer preparedness plans for 2017 -18 and 2018-19.

“During the summer heatwave earlier this year Queensland reached a new electricity demand record of 9369 megawatts,” he said.

“When Queensland hit the maximum demand level, on a Sunday, the state still had strong system security with reserve capacity – even when the mercury was soaring – however that reserve capacity was less than we expected.

“Queensland has the four youngest and most efficient coal-fired generators and also plenty of flexible gas generation, including the 385 megawatt Swanbank E gas-fired power station, which was mothballed by the previous LNP government, and ordered back into service for the coming summer.

“Queensland is an energy powerhouse and the envy of the nation and we want to keep it that way.”

Taskforce Chair Terry Effeney stressed that Queensland is in a good position but that it can’t rest on its laurels.

“We will continue to ensure that networks and energy supply can reliably meet Queensland’s high summer demands. An important part of that is looking at energy efficiency to help manage demand.”

Mr Bailey agreed that Queensland is in a strong position but stressed that the Taskforce had been given a clear brief to develop short and long-term plans for maintaining energy security in the state.

“A top priority for the taskforce will be developing a feasibility study for new strategic transmission in North Queensland to support a clean energy hub.

“The Palaszczuk Government has already reinvested $150 million of Powerlink dividends through the Powering North Queensland plan for this project, and we look forward to seeing the Taskforce’s detailed assessment of the best approach to this investment.

“We want innovation while we continue to be focussed on helping customers.

“The Taskforce is charged with developing a Demand Management and Energy Efficiency Strategy, and this work will provide the opportunities to support customers to better understand and manage their energy use.

The Taskforce will also provide advice on long-term market design for Queensland, including investigating:

  • the development of new hydro-electric and pumped storage generation capacity across the State,
  • expanding interconnection between Queensland and other states

The Taskforce will take account of the recommendations from Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market and provide advice to the Palaszczuk Government to help implement those recommendations which are adopted.

Other members of the Taskforce include Queensland’s Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller, Energy and Water Supply Director-General Professor Paul Simshauser, and Queensland’s Under Treasurer, Mr Jim Murphy.

The Queensland Government has allocated $8.4 million as part of the Powering Queensland Plan to support the work of the Taskforce ensuring secure supply when demand is highest, including preparation of a demand management and energy efficiency strategy – as well as detailed power system modelling to identify longer-term system requirements for Queensland.  

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