Big push for hydro-power

Business, Main Stories

THE proposed hydro power plant in Gulf province from which electricity would be undersea-cabled  to Queensland is gaining momentum, with premier Anna Bligh spearheading the talks with Townsville business leaders.
The Cairns Post reported that the Queensland premier would meet with business leaders in Townsville next week to promote plans to import hydropower from Papua New Guinea for use in Queensland’s north.
“Bligh will govern Queensland from the north next week, basing herself in Townsville from Oct 11 to 16,” the newspaper reported yesterday.
She told parliament she would  be sharing with Townsville business leaders’ information about plans to import green power generated from Purari River to Queensland via an undersea cable.
She said she would also meet with federal independent MP Kennedy Bob Katter and Mt Isa state MP Betty Kiernan, about the project.
Bligh also revealed she plans to travel to PNG in December with representatives from Origin Energy, which is pursuing the hydropower project with PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd.
“I will be joining with the CEO of Origin Energy to speak at a business breakfast of Townsville business leaders about this project,” she said yesterday.
The premier last month signed a memorandum of co-operation with the PNG government, Origin and PNG Energy Developments Ltd to begin investigations into the multi-billion dollar plan.
A comprehensive feasibility study was expected to be finished in 2012 and PNG green power could be pumping into the national grid at Townsville by 2020.
The 50:50 joint venture between Origin and PNGSDP could ultimately see the hydro-power plant built at Purari River, the country’s third largest waterway located in the Gulf province.
Last month, Origin chief executive Grant King said the ongoing assessment of the project was consistent with his company’s pursuit of renewable energy opportunities.
 “This would be the first project to deliver year-round baseload renewable energy into mainland Australia,” King said.
Bligh also said for the project to be viable, PNG needed a baseload customer for the power, which her state would become.
“If successful, this project would be a massive win-win for both PNG and Queensland, opening up new opportunities for all of us,’’ Bligh said.
Deputy prime minister Don Polye said it was a milestone to have the governments come together with the private sector in a partnership to develop such an important project.