Premier Alan Carpenter today opened the Broome Power Station, marking the completion of the $700 million West Kimberley power project, one of the biggest infrastructure investments ever made in the state's far north.
Premier Alan Carpenter today opened the Broome Power Station, marking the official completion of the West Kimberley power project.
Mr Carpenter said the project's completion meant that the Kimberley towns of Broome, Derby, Looma, Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek were now all serviced by new power stations.
"This new equipment will be able to accommodate the expected growth in the area and allow for further regional development over the next 20 years," he said.
"Regional WA is a major contributor to the State's economic boom and it's satisfying to be able to come here from Perth and give a little back."
The Premier said four of the power stations would be fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the first time LNG had been used for power generation in WA.
The Looma power station would continue to use diesel fuel due to its smaller size and issues relating to year-round access.
"Natural gas will be sourced from the Dampier-to-Bunbury gas pipeline and liquefied at a new plant that has been built at Karratha," Mr Carpenter said.
"The LNG will then be transported by truck to the West Kimberley towns.
"LNG offers significant environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
The Premier said the $700million investment included $300million in capital works and associated costs and more than $400million in power purchases over the next 20 years.
Kimberley MLA Carol Martin said the project augured well for the continued growth of the region.
"The Kimberley's rapid growth is a challenge for many agencies, so naturally I am firmly behind this project, as its core aims are to provide a reliable power supply and to employ locals in the delivery of this supply," Mrs Martin said.
Regional electricity utility Horizon Power has entered into a 20-year agreement with Energy Development Limited (EDL) to build and operate the new power stations.
Horizon Power managing director Rod Hayes acknowledged that while there had been some teething issues associated with the commissioning of the new power stations, the Horizon Power/EDL partnership was dedicated to ensuring a safe, good quality and reliable power supply.
"Both Horizon Power and EDL have staff based in the Kimberley who are part of the community.
They experience the same power supplies as the rest of the residents and are focussed on ensuring the best possible outcomes for the Kimberley people," Mr Hayes said.
Energy Minister Francis Logan said the project had been a boon for the region with the direct employment of local people and engagement of local contractors.
Mr Logan said benefits would also be delivered by the introduction of a $1million community benefits trust fund, to be jointly administered by EDL and the Office of Energy. Details of the scheme were still being finalised.
The Minister said the funding would support community development programs that contributed to the social fabric of the five towns in which the new power stations had been built. Grants would be awarded to projects that met guidelines developed by EDL and the Office of Energy.
"The improvements in energy infrastructure in areas of WA are proof of the benefits of having a regional utility focussed on regional needs, like Horizon Power," Mr Logan said.
"One of the clearest benefits to come out of the reform of the electricity industry in WA has been the creation of a power utility that lives, breathes and understands regional WA."