The Cessnock Advertiser's Letters to the Editor: February 10, 2021

PLEA TO PM: The protest at Williamtown on Monday.
PLEA TO PM: The protest at Williamtown on Monday.

GREENS CALL FOR BATTERY, NOT GAS, AT KURRI SMELTER SITE

Protesters went to Williamtown on Monday to deliver a message to the Prime Minister: Shelve your gas-fired power station at Kurri - it's not needed.

The need for the Prime Minister's gas-fired power station at Kurri is fading by the day. The NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap appears to have given industry confidence to invest in renewable energy and battery storage.

According to the Hydro aluminium smelter site developer, Jeff McCloy, a solar farm is all but signed up and ready to go on that site. That, coupled with a big battery to store excess solar power, would make perfect sense. Both could use the existing network connection, with a bit of upgrading, significantly reducing the cost of connecting to the grid.

CEP Energy have proposed a 1200MW battery for Kurri - unfortunately, in the wrong place. The current proposed location for this big battery is the Hunter Economic Zone - HEZ. The surrounding Tomalpin woodland is a breeding site for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot. Cessnock Council has already identified the need to adopt a more appropriate environmental zoning for much of this area. It is unlikely that the developer's vision of an industrial estate with rooftop solar feeding the battery will ever eventuate at this site.

If Mr Morrison would acknowledge that the gas-fired power station at Kurri is no longer required, surely the big battery could be relocated to the Hydro site? It's just four kilometres up the road, already cleared and flattened and the planning proposal for rezoning has just been on exhibition.

With solar power and a big battery, the Hydro site is more likely to attract the industries of the future that want to minimise their carbon footprint.

For those of us in Kurri, it would give some hope that we can finally hitch our wagon to the future not the past. We want the Hydro industrial area to survive and thrive into the future, with the focus on renewable energy not gas, low emissions intensity processes and jobs for locals in industries of the future, not the past.

The PM could claim that his threat has worked. He no longer needs the taxpayer to fund a gas-fired power station because industry is showing willingness to replace the generation to be lost when the Liddell Power Station closes down.

He can quietly shelve his plan for gas fired power at Kurri and let the big battery take its place, and connection to the grid.

Janet Murray, Greens spokesperson for Cessnock

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