Tide not yet out on power plan

TIDAL power may still flow through power lines in the western Kimberley region.

Energy Minister Colin Barnett recently announced consortiums Energy Equity Corporation/Woodside Energy and Wesfarmers Energy/West Power were bidding for the project.

Both consortiums propose setting up liquefied natural gas-fired power stations.

However, Derby/West Kimberley Shire president Peter McCumstie said Premier Richard Court had agreed to speak to Mr Barnett about the benefits of a station generating electricity from Derby’s huge tides.

Mr Court said a tidal power station in the Kimberley had been a dream of coalition governments since the 1960s.

“Colin Barnett has been very supportive of the project but it needs to be commercially viable,” he said. “The challenge is to have a cost structure that is in the right ball park.”

Tidal Energy Australia has proposed creating the world’s second largest tidal power station, capable of generating 48 megawatts of power, and the construction of a 500 kilometre transmission line to service Broome, Fitzroy Crossing and remote Aboriginal communities.

Mr McCumstie said the project could create up to 500 jobs in industries such as aquaculture and tourism and establish Derby as the world centre for tidal power generation.

Most Derby residents have signed a petition calling for Mr Barnett to reconsider his decision to exclude the tidal generator from the final bidding process.

Proponents of the tidal power station have met with Senators Nick Minchin and Robert Hill in Canberra to discuss Federal Government funding options for the project.

Kimberley Tourism Association CEO Brian Tolhurst said tidal power had the potential to give Derby a shot in the arm, both in job creation and infrastructure development.

“This project could do for Derby tourism what the Ord River Dam did for Kununurra tourism,” Mr Tolhurst said.

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