Renewable energy gridlock

Renewable energy gridlock

Vital State Government funding will not be provided to enable proposed renewable energy projects in the MacKillop electorate to connect to the National Grid.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said such expenses should be borne by the developer of the electricity generating assets and furthermore the State Government has no intention of buying back the “poles and wires” electricity power distribution network which was privatised 25 years ago.

At present, a proposed Snuggery solar farm and a 76-turbine extension to the Woakwine windfarm have long been in limbo.

Independent MacKillop MP Nick McBride recently quizzed Minister Koutsantonis in the House of Assembly about the State Government stance but did not refer directly to either the Snuggery or Woakwine projects.

“I have been advised that a number of shovel-ready solar and renewable projects have been delayed or shelved due to an ageing power network in the MacKillop electorate,” Mr McBride said.

“Investors have advised me they are burdened with the high cost of grid upgrades, jeopardising the financial viability of these ventures.

“It should be noted there has been State and Federal government support for grid infrastructure upgrades in the north of South Australia and the Riverland but none have been offered in the electorate of MacKillop.

“Will the State Government consider acquiring the South Australian Power Networks to ensure consistent investment rollout of renewable energy projects across the whole state?”

In reply, Mr Koutsantonis said the electricity assets in SA are independently regulated.

“What that means is any new generator wishing to connect to the National Grid has to bear those costs themselves,” he said.

“The alternative is, of course, that we would use the community to cross-subsidise private proponents that are building infrastructure generators for profit.

“The logical extension of that would be that you would be having AGL or Origin subsidised for building new generation.

“The connections to the grid and any improvements to the National Grid for those connections should be borne by the proponents.”

The minister went on to make highly critical remarks about the 1999 decision of the Liberal Government to privatise ETSA and its “poles and wires” network across SA.

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