Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett


    Gas-fired electricity for Kimberley and State Government commits to a tidal energy project

    19/12/2000 12:52 PM

    Energy Minister Colin Barnett today announced the State Government had approved Western Power Corporation entering into commercial contracts with Energy Equity Corporation/Woodside Energy Limited for gas-fired power generation for the West Kimberley.

    Mr Barnett said Cabinet had also agreed to a semi-commercial tidal power project in the vicinity of Derby which would cost between $80 million and $120 million.

    “This tidal project along with the Ord River hydro scheme and the about to be built Albany wind farm will be the leading renewable energy projects in this State,” he said.

    “The tidal project for Derby will be capable of generating 10 megawatts of electricity.”

    Mr Barnett said the contracts for the gas-fired power generation were worth $500 million over 18 years.

    He said about 70 per cent of the total energy market was located in the Broome region which would need back-up generators to cover power demands over the summer of 2001-2002.

    “With gas-fired power generation Broome will have a clean, expanded and reliable power supply which is something that community has been demanding for many years,” the Minister said.

    “Other towns to have gas-fired power are Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Looma.

    “Gas also presents opportunities and major benefits for remote Aboriginal communities.

    “The contract with EEC/WEC allows for 30 per cent of the electricity to be provided by renewable energy of one form or another.”

    Mr Barnett said because of the great degree of interest in tidal power, the State Government would also establish a Tidal Energy Research and Advisory Committee to explore prospects for a demonstration tidal energy project in the Derby area.

    He said Derby had been excluded from the gas option but expressions of interest for a semi-commercial tidal energy project, which would attract sufficient funding support from Government sources, would be called as soon as possible.

    “The Regional Power Procurement Process, through which proposals from six bidders were rigorously assessed, has delivered a power purchase agreement in the best interests of the State and taxpayers,” Mr Barnett said.

    “The main purpose of the process, to provide the West Kimberley with a reliable and lower cost electricity supply using new power generation facilities, has been achieved.”

    Mr Barnett said under the agreement, new generating plant was expected to be operational from 2003.

    “At the moment Western Power loses more than $18 million a year generating and supplying electricity in the West Kimberley,” he said.

    “In addition to reducing losses to Western Power, the agreement with Energy Equity Corporation/Woodside Energy Limited also allows the uniform electricity tariff to be maintained in the longer term.

    “The Energy Equity Corporation/Woodside Energy Limited consortium proposes to transport LNG by road train to newly-built power stations at Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek and Looma.

    “This project delivers exciting development potential to the region through the introduction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the West Kimberley.

    “The availability of LNG in the region will also present new options to remote communities which have traditionally relied on costly fuel sources to generate their own electricity.

    “With the successful completion of the competitive tender process in the West Kimberley, I am confident the Regional Power Procurement Processes currently under way in the Mid-West, Esperance and Exmouth will deliver similar benefits to those regions.”

    Mr Barnett said the power purchase agreement allowed for the co-existence with renewable-based technology for up to 30 per cent of Western Power’s energy requirements, allowing renewable schemes to be piloted and the benefits realised without commercial or reliability risks to the broader community.

    He said the introduction of a private electricity generator in the West Kimberley highlighted the State Government’s commitment to facilitating increased private sector participation in the electricity industry.

    Mr Barnett said the State Government had strongly supported the development of renewable energy where it was viable.

    He said the community in the North-West and Derby, in particular, had shown a passionate interest in exploiting prospects for tidal power.

    However, the full-scale project advanced by Tidal Energy Australia/Leighton contractors as part of the tender process for supplying power to Western Power in the West Kimberley did not stand up to comparison with the Energy Equity/ Woodside proposal.

    “The tidal option was given more than a fair opportunity to demonstrate it could supply power to Western Power,” Mr Barnett said.

    “So in light of the State’s commitment to renewable energy, the Government has decided to establish a Tidal Energy Research and Advisory Committee as soon as it is practical.”

    Mr Barnett said this committee would be chaired by an independent person who would provide advice to him about:
    • prospects for a tidal energy project in the North-West at a site and on a scale to satisfy research and technology application;
    • ways in which the State could attract and assess at the pre-feasibility level private sector proposals for such a project; and -
    • securing the necessary funding from Federal and State Governments for the development of the project.

    “I would expect international experts would want to be involved in this project so Western Australia can get the best possible advice and ultimately a tidal project,” Mr Barnett said.

    Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699