While a national debate rages about the merits of nuclear versus coal power, WA’s government-owned utility is about to make a choice for the next base load power station in WA between gas and coal.
Easy decision, you would think. WA has bucketloads of gas, it’s cheap, it’s nice and clean, the Gallop government has a green tinge – surely they would choose gas. But the government has bent over backwards to level the playing field for coal before the decision is made, waiving greenhouse offsets and even the need to install sulphur scrubbers in the coal-fired plants.
WA’s coal comes from the regional marginal seat of Collie – but with the success of one-vote one-value this seat is barely a prospect for Labor at the next election, so why they are prioritising unlikely votes in the bush for much needed greenie votes in the new metro seats is puzzling at best.
The coal lobby is pushing the line that there “needs to be a balance in the fuel mix for reliability” – a dig at the fact that supply of gas was (wrongly) blamed for the “Black Wednesday” power shortages. But with new gas fields being opened in the north west, and the pipeline to Perth committed for expansion, this is a fallacy. What’s more, stinky old coal will – even if gas wins – make up at least two-thirds of the power generation on the south west grid.
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In his first term and during the election Gee Gee trumpeted his green credentials on Old Growth Forests and Ningaloo Reef. In his second term will he be trumpeting his brown credentials? Surely with metro seats to win this would hardly seem an electoral positive.