Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Global | By Doris Richards

South Australia state govt says to build new gas power plant

The South Australian government has announced that it will spend A$500m to build a government owned gas plant and battery storage farm to stabilise its energy supply and provide energy to industry, according to the ABC.

Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis say the arrangement will put the state's needs before the national gas market.

Additionally, the plan will incentivise gas production within the state, introduce an Energy Security Target, enable more power to be exerted over national market operators and use the State Government's purchasing power to attract a new generator to SA, increasing competition.

The company's recent negotiations to secure gas supply until the end of 2019 have resulted in a 76 per cent price increase across its east coast operations, illustrating the challenges facing many manufacturers, chairman Robert Millner said.

The minister said the plan would also create about 650 jobs, although it stopped short of guaranteeing the new gas plant would be up and running by next summer.

"The package is a serious response to the state's problems".

The Taskforce will include key Departments (PM&C, Energy, Industry, Treasury) and agencies (Geoscience Australia) and energy market bodies (AEMO, ACCC/Australian Energy Regulator, Australian Energy Market Commission).

"Gas availability and affordability in Australia is the priority".

He also flagged concern over the government's proposal to bring in new powers to intervene in the functioning of the grid.

"They have given us a guarantee that gas will be available to meet demand", Mr Turnbull told reporters on Wednesday.

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"The National Electricity Market is broken".

Ms Stanton said she liked what she had heard from the Government's plan, but like Mr Ross, she was anxious prices would not go down significantly.

"We have absolutely agreed - that we must continue the pressure on State and Territory governments to revisit the restrictions on gas development and exploration", the prime minister said.

The impact on prices would be extremely important to the scheme's implementation, it said.

The South Australian Liberal party has not responded to the plan yet. The energy plan comes after a statewide blackout in September.

Speaking in Sydney yesterday, Mr Sims repeated his warning from 12-months ago of "an urgent need for both new and...more diverse sources of gas supply" into Australia's domestic market.

South Australia will take charge to source, generate and control more of our power right here in South Australia. "This clearly embraces our view that batteries are a vital part of the renewable energy revolution", he said.

Turnbull has been outspoken in his criticism of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, describing Australia's vast gas resources as plentiful and blaming stifling regulations and unrealistic renewable energy plans for the looming crisis.

French company Engie, which owns the existing gas-fired power station at Pelican Point, declined to comment.

The miner, which lost about $15 million due to the 2016 blackout, said on Tuesday that "talk about potential solutions is a positive".

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