Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the state’s Budget will invest $1.16 billion to ensure affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply for Queensland businesses and residents.
Palaszczuk announced the Powering Queensland Plan in a pre-Budget announcement this week.
Queensland will invest $770m to reduce the cost of renewable energy, and will conduct the reverse auction of 400MW of renewable energy, to help meet its 50% renewable energy target by 2030. It will establish the Queensland Energy Security Taskforce to monitor this goal, and to implement the accepted outcomes of the Finkel Review.
The Government will also restart its 385MW Swanbank E gas-fired power station, and will investigate the restructure of its own generators, and the potential establishment of ‘CleanCo’.
395 square kilometres of land will be released for gas development under the plan. The plan also sets aside $386m specifically for North Queensland power solutions.
“We know that rising wholesale prices and energy security have emerged as key issues in Australia over the last six months, driven by a lack of federal policy leadership undermining industry investment, gas supply restrictions in southern states, retirement of ageing coal-fired power stations and unprecedented demand during recent summer heatwaves,” the premier said.
“That’s why last week my Government took swift action in response to the QCA’s regional price determination, investing $770 million to slash the price increase by more than half.”
Palaszczuk said the public ownership of electricity markets had allowed her government to bring more supply into the market to reduce volatility and put downward pressure on wholesale prices, “action would not have been possible if the LNP sold off these public assets”.
State Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Queensland had a highly secure energy supply, but ongoing vigilance was needed to ensure our future energy security.
“The Powering Queensland plan includes commissioning the Energy Security Taskforce – a team of experts to guide the state’s robust energy security for both the short and long-term which includes implementing the Finkel Review recommendations,” Pitt said.
The Taskforce will be chaired by Finkel Review panel member and former Energex Chief Executive Terry Effeney. Other members will include Queensland Chief Scientist Suzanne Miller, Queensland’s under-treasurer Jim Murphy, and Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply director-general Paul Simshauser.
State energy minister Mark Bailey said the first priority for the Taskforce would be to work with Queensland’s energy businesses to ensure Queensland’s system remains secure during the high demand periods over the next two summers.
“The Taskforce will also lead work into developing transmission infrastructure in Queensland’s North-West to support a clean energy hub, assess the need for expanded interconnection between Queensland and other states, and investigate new hydro-electric generation sites,” Bailey said.