New power station to be built in southeast Queensland
A NEW power station to help keep the lights on in Queensland and NSW will be announced today, as the first of a series of new generation is given the tick.
The gas-fired power plant at Gatton will be underwritten by the Morrison Government and is one of 12 generators short-listed just prior to the election.
No decision has yet been made on a coal-fired power station at Collinsville, championed by some LNP MPs, which was also short-listed.
At 132 megawatts, the gas plant is a smaller generator but can be used to firm up renewable power and can switch on with little notice during peak periods.
It is also hoped it will put downward pressure on power prices should it be given final approval by the company behind it, Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners.
Quinbrook, which specialises in renewable and low-carbon projects, has previously warned the project would not be able to go ahead without government support.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the decision was made after consideration of the project's financial viability, benefit to consumers and potential environmental impacts.
"The Government will now enter detailed underwriting and contractual negotiations with the project proponent ahead of its financial investment decisions," Mr Taylor said.
Construction will begin once private sector funding is secured.
The Federal Government is not funding the project, but instead underwriting its debt, so taxpayers will not have to fork out for the construction and any financial exposure is expected to be minimal.
Mr Taylor said it would increase competition in the energy market, helping to keep prices down.
Any excess gas from the project will be put on the Queensland gas market, which would increase competition for AGL and Origin which dominate retail gas sales in the state.
An interconnector linking Queensland and NSW powergrids means the project could also be used to boost the southern state's energy supply if needed.
In relation to Collinsville, Mr Taylor said he was working closely with stakeholders.
He said the first study was due this week, but further feasibility studies would be needed early in the new year.
"We expect to be able to support feasibility studies in north Queensland early in the new year," he said.