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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Blueprint for powering north-west’s energy future

    Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Blueprint for powering north-west’s energy future

    Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development Andrew Fraser has released a high-level report on the future infrastructure for meeting north-west Queensland’s energy needs.

    Mr Fraser was joined by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, Member for Mount Isa Betty Kiernan and Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche in Mount Isa today to release the report, which maps the options for new power generation to be built in the region or for a high-voltage transmission line to connect the north-west to the national grid.

    They released the findings of the Sims Review, which examined the region’s electricity supply and proposed a year-long competitive process involving energy suppliers, energy users and the community.

    Mr Fraser, who was in Mount Isa as part of the Building for Jobs Tour, said a sustainable electricity supply capable of meeting increased demand would help the region realise its potential and secure jobs for the future.

    He said the review, conducted by independent expert Rod Sims, had recommended a competitive process during the next 12 months for proponents to bid for a long-term energy solution for the north-west and its growing resources sector.

    “The review found that the numbers are too close to call on the best energy solution for the north-west, so we’re putting all options in process,” Mr Fraser said.

    “One of the big barriers are the high bidding costs facing the proponents of the transmission line, so we are prepared to reimburse part of the costs of a feasibility study.
    “Also, we’ll be working with proponents to address the complex regulatory hurdles for connecting to the national electricity market.

    “The main options are to continue generating electricity locally or to connect the region to the national electricity grid.

    “All options have advantages and disadvantages so we expect to see industry working with all parts of the supply chain, as well as seeking input from the community, to develop a preferred solution.

    “One thing is certain – the region needs a solution that meets the needs of both consumers and the resources sector at a competitive price, and this will be the prime concern for the State Government as we work through this process.”

    Mr Swan said the resources-rich basin of the North West Mineral Province would require significant energy infrastructure enhancements to meet its future energy requirements and customers were best placed to determine the options that would best meet their needs.

    “The region is one of the most significant base and precious metals mining provinces in the world and plays a key role in Australia’s and Queensland’s export performance,” Mr Swan said.

    “It produced commodities worth $6.7 billion in 2006-07 and this can be expanded upon with investment in energy infrastructure, creating many new jobs.

    “The process outlined in the Sims Review will empower customers to determine which energy solution is best for the region, providing for increased supply at a competitive price.”

    The Sims Review was jointly commissioned by the State Government and the Queensland Resources Council.

    Mr Swan also said he would convene a Renewables Business Roundtable – including a meeting involving Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter – in North Queensland.

    “It’s important that the North Queensland renewables sector knows about the Rudd Government's investments in renewable energy and that we hear the industry’s views on renewable energy policy.”

    Mrs Kiernan said the Sims Review found that the future of the north-west’s energy supply needs was at a crossroads.

    “A decision is needed on whether to expand local generating capacity or to construct a high-voltage transmission line connecting the region to the national grid.

    “The ultimate solution must be capable of supporting the future development of the North-West Minerals Province, which is vital to the state’s economy.

    “The value of production and value-added processing generated in the North West Minerals Province is second only to that of the Central Queensland coalfields.

    Mr Roche said that despite the north-west almost bursting at the seams with highly prospective mineral deposits, the region’s growth prospects had been hamstrung by limited energy supply.

    “The Sims Review has mapped out a process for the region’s huge mineral potential to be realised,” he said.

    “I’d like to thank all the QRC members who opened their books to the review and provided the data that allowed Mr Sims to confidentially examine the commerciality of each energy supply proposal.”

    Media contacts: Andrew Fraser’s Office 3224 6361 or 3224 5982; Wayne Swan’s Office – Matthew Martyn-Jones 0419 418 394; Mount Isa electorate office 4743 5149; QRC – Jim Devine 3295 9560