03/01/2008 - 09:41

CCI calls for state energy strategy, after blackout scare

03/01/2008 - 09:41

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Western Australia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry has taken a swipe at the state government over its dependence on gas from the North West shelf, as the government-owned Western Power moved to allay fears of rolling blackouts this afternoon.

CCI calls for state energy strategy, after blackout scare

Western Australia's peak business group has taken a swipe at the state government over its dependence on gas from the North West shelf, as the government-owned Western Power moved to allay fears of rolling blackouts this afternoon.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Langoulant said gas shortages caused by the Karratha gas plant shut-down highlighted the need for a comprehensive state energy policy.

Western Power warned yesterday that 20 per cent of the state's power generators would be affected by the shut-down of the Karratha plant, the destination for gas produced from the Woodside-operated North West Shelf Joint Venture, which supplies about 65 per cent of the state's gas demand from six fields.

"For a state with a high level of economic growth and substantial industrial activity, the formulation of policy is too ad-hoc. A considered energy strategy from the state government, providing a clear statement of principles and goals, is now seriously overdue," he said.

"West Australians were reminded today of their dependence on gas from the North West shelf and the single 1,500 kilometre pipeline that delivers it. It will take a far-thinking and wide-ranging strategy to overcome their continuing exposure to the risk of a major power emergency and uncertainty of supply. And work on that has to start now."

Western Power confirmed today that the risk of power blackouts had passed after 300 megawatts of additional energy was obtained from various sources, including 50 megawatts of wind power from the South West and 35 megawatts from generators in Kalgoorlie.

The utility also asked businesses to use only essential lighting, reduce air conditioning where possible and half lift capacity.

Mr Langoulant said an overarching policy for the next 50 years was required that addressed WA's overall energy position, an initiative which the CCI believed would provide the market with a greater degree of confidence about the state's energy future and pointers to potential opportunities.

"It has to set the foundations for an energy industry that draws on a diverse and flexible fuel mix; the right combination and adequacy of delivery infrastructure; and a reserve electricity capacity to cope with all potential scenarios," he explained.

In the absence of a considered plan, Mr Langoulant said the state government was in danger of being overwhelmed by day-to-day issues and of bringing down potentially superficial, uncoordinated measures.

Electricity reforms and the restructure of Western Power in 2005 were only a first step, he said, but the government needed to encourage more participants and technologies to WA, and encourage them to stay for the longer term.

 

 

 

 

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