CANBERRA MATTERS - CESSNOCK ADVERTISER
Labor's commitment to a Kurri power plant has created plenty of talk, and here are the answers to some of the questions I have been asked.
1. How is this plant different to the government's?
The government proposed a gas plant with limited future green hydrogen capacity that it would not commit to. Labor will ask Snowy Hydro to run the plant on 30 per cent green hydrogen from the start, and 100 per cent by 2030. Upgrading the plant to green hydrogen this decade, in line with private sector projects, will mean greater more secure jobs for workers. The government's gas plant risks taxpayers' money as it could become a 'stranded' asset in a renewable energy system. Their plan did not stack up environmentally or economically - many experts said so. Labor's plan does stack up.
2. Is this a backflip by Labor?
No. It is a different plan. I have always supported investment in the Hunter and local jobs as a way of shoring up our energy grid after Liddell closes. Some of my colleagues did not support the government's gas plant as it did not stack up environmentally or economically. We have worked with Snowy Hydro and experts to come up with a better plan. We are investing an extra $700 million to ensure the plant moves beyond gas to the renewable green hydrogen.
3. Why not just axe it altogether?
Snowy Hydro has already bought the two turbines for the project and construction is about to start. Labor isn't in the business of ripping up contracts or tearing down construction - that would be risky and foolish. We will improve this project and ensure its long-term future.
4. Is this plant necessary?
Yes. It is needed to shore up the power grid after the closure of Liddell, not just for homes but for industry and manufacturing. The move to 100 per cent green hydrogen this decade creates more options.
5. What about Labor's climate change commitment?
Labor's proposal is consistent with net zero emissions by 2050, and 43 per cent emissions reductions by 2030. This investment is part of our Powering Australia plan to create jobs, cut bills and reduce emissions.
6. Will this make power prices go up?
No. Wholesale power prices are determined by the market, where Snowy competes with other generators. Labor's commitment to renewables will make power prices go down.
7. How many jobs will it create?
600 during construction, which is important for local employment and skills development. Labor will ensure Snowy Hydro sticks to its commitment to employ locals and train our apprentices. Operational jobs are fewer but will be more secure under green hydrogen than gas.
8. What is green hydrogen and why is it important?
Green hydrogen is made without fossil fuels. It is produced from electrolysis, in which a strong electrical current is passed through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. The Government National Hydrogen Strategy says green hydrogen "could help us to reliably integrate extensive renewable generation into the electricity grid". It is still emerging, and Labor's investment will help deploy the technology and bring costs down.
9. Does this mean Labor is anti-gas?
No. Gas has a role in firming and peaking electricity while renewables and storage develop. Taxpayers should not bear the risk of assets that could become 'stranded', which is why we are committed to green hydrogen.
10. Does the community want this?
I believe so. While I have had some people contact me to say they don't want it, I have had many more tell me they do.
If you have any further questions, please be in touch.