28 March, 2017
Courtesy of the Townsville Bulletin
The North has long known how critical cheap and efficient power is to our future.
We have been paying too much for too long.
It has cost jobs and placed a ceiling on our economic prospects.
Now the whole country has woken up to the looming calamity.
Politicians, who invariably do not recognise a problem until it’s a full-blown crisis, have outdone themselves on energy policy. Their failure to act will cost all of us dearly, perhaps for a generation.
With Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power plant due to close this week, Australia is about to be plunged into energy insecurity. Victoria’s power deficit will have knock-on effects around the country, including Queensland.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has belatedly reacted, with a hastily orchestrated plan to expand the Snowy-Hydro-Electric Scheme.
It ticks the box of the “vision thing” but will do little else for the parlous energy situation here.
And with Cyclone Debbie about to unleash her wrath on Central and North Queensland, we may be about to discover how parlous that situation is.
The overwhelming bulk of Townsville’s energy supply comes from Gladstone, 827km down the coast. Should the transmission lines be disturbed by Debbie as she roars on to land as a Category 4 cyclone, our power could be cut.
Politicians will then tell us the blackout is due to an extreme weather event, not through policy inadequacies.
Don’t believe that for a second.
If we had baseload power supply close to Townsville we would stand a much better chance of retaining supply and, if it failed, a greater chance of restoring it more rapidly. The length of our supply line makes us vulnerable. That’s what undid Napoleon and Hitler in their doomed advances across Eastern Europe.
In the case of a vast and nasty storm system like Debbie, Townsville’s power supply has been badly exposed.