The issue of clean coal, and alternate sources of electricity, has been a hot topic over the past few months, with the struggle of rising electricity prices in the Mid-Western Region bringing it front and center at the last local council meeting.
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Cr Percy Thompson believes that “the greatest crisis facing this country is the rising price of electricity”, and stated that there has been an average rise of $63,000 in two years for the price of electricity in small businesses.
“I’m not against reducing emissions, not too many people are, but clean coal stations are being built all over Europe, China and India, and other places in the world, and we haven’t built any here [in Australia] for the last decade or so,” Cr Thompson said.
Thompson’s call for a clean coal energy station in Mudgee has sparked discussions about the legitimacy of the proposed station, and council unanimously voting to request the State Government undertake a feasibility study.
It also comes at a time when the Turnbull government is pushing to make the country’s coal-fired power stations run years longer than the original lifespan of the project.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect in Parliament after a new report from the nation's energy regulator warned urgent action was needed to stop homes and businesses losing power during extreme summer heat.
Cr Thompson also believes that these moves are less important than the fact that energy costs are now having to be subsided, and that the speed of renewable energy power options leaves many people bearing the brunt of rising costs for too long.
“It’s alright to talk about going to renewable options, but we can’t afford it because it’s only going to produce six per cent of our power, and if that happens it’s going to take us six years, when you can build a clean coal station in three years,” he said.
“South Australia made the move to renewables and they ran out of power last year. They have the highest power price in the world, and Australia has the fifth highest, with it escalating all the time.
“$140 million is being paid by the government to people to subsides their high bill prices, sending out cheques to those that can’t make the cut-off, and when is it going to change? Australia has the world’s highest reserves of energy, but we’re on the highest lists of power prices.”
Cr Thompson believes that there are options in the Mid-Western region for a station that would cut these high costs for residents and small businesses.
“We had an old station in our shire, but the best place may be the old lands near the planned Cobbora mine land that was recently sold off,” he suggested.
“I contacted Troy Grant’s office but we got referred to the treasurer’s office and now the premier – I said that they need to bring out clean coal to the area, and it’s getting desperate.”
The local council is now awaiting the feasibility study that the State Government has been requested to undertake in the near future.
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