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Wave of info gives concern

DIPPING your toes in the water of tidal power can sometimes leave you wet behind the ears.

Having received volumes of technical info on the proposed Kimberley tidal power project from West Kimberley citizens

concerned that the State seemed to favour separate fossil fuel power stations in Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing, I donned my Save the World cape and flew into the environmental battle zone.

I cyberlinked the info to knowledgeable people in WA – thankfully we have some – suggesting they join my outrage at yet another move for short-term financial gain and long-term environmental disaster.

Gently but firmly, I was informed that, for once, Minister for Energy Colin Barnett seems to be doing the right thing, all things considered, in rejecting the proposed plan.

Whoa! Time to whip off the cape, grab the notebook and leap into rapid learning mode.

The options are, of course, not simple.

We have an innovative proposal by Tidal Energy Australia for a 48 megawatt power station and a 500 kilometre transmission system to service not only Broome, Derby, and Fitzroy Crossing but also remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley.

It would be Australia’s largest, and the world’s second largest, tidal power project.

We have the favoured bid from Energy Equity/Woodside for three 90 per cent LNG 10 per cent diesel stations for localised power in three West Kimberley townships.

As with most learning curves, the more you find out, the more you find out that you don’t know much at all – and you find out that those who think they know, don’t know as much as they think they do.

The Minister’s advisory committee presented its report on power procurement in the West Kimberley to the Regional Power Procurement Steering Committee which has

presented it to the Minister who is taking it to Cabinet in time for a power purchase agreement decision, hopefully in September.

Wet ears flapping, the only certain conclusions are that WA does not have a clear policy on energy and decisions seem to be one-offs made within narrow parameters.

Furthermore, WA has a few very knowledgeable people conversant with energy options but most are rarely heard should they bother to join seemingly uselessly narrow discussions.

The community is not being informed or welcomed into an informed discussion about energy planning.

WA could be a model State for wise innovative energy use and generation, sympathetic to long-term requirements for a healthy and sustainable planet.

We ain’t doing it – energy planning in WA seems to be an oxymoron.

The powerful message to the Government is that ordinary people care about WA’s future and want to be informed and engaged in discussions leading to wise decisions.

n Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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