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New tidal power plan

THE Kimberley will get a tidal energy power station and the Energy Equity-Woodside consortium will not lose its contract to supply power to the region, under a new proposal.

The Energy Equity-Woodside consortium’s bid to build gas-fired power stations in the Kimberley towns of Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing to supply power to the region was accepted by the State Government earlier this year.

It was considered superior to Tidal Energy Australia’s more expensive bid to create a tidal power station to supply the three towns, the Curtin Airbase, Western Metals’ mine and Aboriginal communities in the region.

However, much of the project’s expense was due to the need to construct a power transmission grid from Derby to those areas.

Federal Forestry and Conservation Minister Wilson Tuckey has offered up to $65 million from the Remote and Renewable Energy Program to build the grid.

The Federal fund was created from negotiations between Prime Minister John Howard and the Democrats to get the GST passed.

TEA managing director Peter Wood said if the transmission line was established, the Derby tidal power station could be built without Government funding.

He has proposed that the transmission line be owned by the WA Government and a 1c per kilowatt hour charge levied to cover maintenance costs.

“Energy Equity-Woodside can still build their power station in Broome and sell power onto the grid,” Mr Wood said.

“Tidal Energy Australia would become the base load generator with the consortium’s power station being used if power demand requires it.”

The TEA power station will initially be capable of generating 48 megawatts, although that capacity could be doubled in the future.

According to the TEA, its power will cost about 12.5c per kilowatt hour while the gas-fired station’s power will cost about 20c per kilowatt hour.

The TEA already has an agreement to supply power to the Western Metals site if its plant is built.

Mr Wood said the TEA project would create a lake that could be used for recreational and aquaculture purposes.

A report commissioned by the company found the lake could create up to 500 permanent new jobs and a need for 300 new hotel rooms.

“This is a win-win proposal,” Mr Wood said.

“The Commonwealth Government gets a landmark renewable energy project, the WA Government gets a free grid, competition and regional development and the two proponents for energy supply to the region get a go.”

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Barnett said the proposal would not change the Minister’s mind.

“The contracts have been just about finalised with Western Power,” she said.

Mr Barnett has come under intense pressure from the Federal Government to revoke the decision to award the project to the energy consortium.

Most Federal Liberals want the controversial $335 million tidal power scheme project to proceed.

Mr Tuckey has been particularly vocal in his support for the tidal power project. His outspoken comments have fuelled the debate that has involved Federal, State and local governments and groups opposed and in favour of the project.

Mr Howard is also a proponent of the proposal to harness the powerful tidal system at Derby to generate a renewable energy supply.

Premier Richard Court was lobbied by his Federal colleagues to support tidal power at Derby when in Canberra during September.

The State Opposition supports the plan – provided the Federal Government provides funding assistance to enable the scheme to proceed.

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