EP energy update
Nearly six months have passed since we were left in the dark, and what have we learnt?
Firstly, thank you to the hundreds of people who took the time to fill in my power outage survey. The response was frankly extraordinary. It proved not only what a major issue power reliability is, but helped me obtain vital information about how the outage affected people on the Eyre Peninsula.
About 50 per cent of respondents applied for the Loss of Power grant. Of the remaining 50pc, reasons to why they did not apply included lack of communication and knowledge, the exceptionally short time frame to lodge, and, of course, no phone or internet access which in some cases extended for weeks.
The ad-hoc implementation of the grants meant my office was in regular contact with the Government unit responsible, in an attempt to clear up some of the inequities experienced across the electorate. The poor management was reflected in the number of applicants who were not successful in obtaining assistance due to various reasons often beyond their control.
In collaboration with Port Lincoln Mayor Bruce Green, I wrote to the company that controls our back-up generators, Engie, which clearly failed in our hour of need. I am still yet to receive an adequate response, or any sort of assurance of the reliability of our back-up generators going forward. I plan to pursue the private company until I receive this information.
State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall visited Port Lincoln after the outage, hearing from community and business leaders. The Leader was informed not only about the power outage, but of the ramifications unreliability and high prices are having on future investments on the EP.
Along with Marshall, I met with Telstra, to discuss contingencies of extending our back-up power supply for mobile and landlines. The loss of communication was just as distressing, if not more, than losing electricity.
As a matter of urgency, I instigated meetings with all of the EP mayors and the Premier Jay Weatherill, via phone. The Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis followed this with a visit to Port Lincoln, in which he was inundated with stories about our regular blackouts across the EP.
More recently, as our power supply problems have been experienced State and nation-wide, the issue has escalated up the national agenda. In hindsight, I believe EP was the canary in the coalmine for the rest of the state and the country.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit in January consolidated our power problems on the national stage. We are still hearing about Port Lincoln in the Federal Parliament, with stories from community and business owners he met. To coincide his visit with Tunarama was a bonus, with more people able to tell their stories to the Prime Minister first-hand.
Further to this, I am also meeting with the Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg this week. This will give me an opportunity to put EP’s perilous energy case forward, once again on the national stage.
This week Jay Weatherill conceded that 15 years of failed Labor policies will cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars. Having forced the closure of 540 megawatts of cheap, base load power at Port Augusta, the Weatherill Government is now proposing to spend $360 million on 250 megawatts of standby power. Nowhere in his plan is the problem of SA’s lack of cheap base load generation addressed. The plan does not deliver SA cheaper electricity. In fact, the plan doesn’t guarantee reliable services to Eyre Peninsula even.
I believe there is no one single solution to our energy security. The State Liberal Party has proposed its energy policy, in which it will take to the 2018 State Election. Power must be reliable and affordable, with investment and return on investment. There must be a National Electricity Market, with a broad generation mix balancing demand and supply. At present, we are out of sync with the rest of the country.
I have spoken about our energy crisis in State Parliament five times since the September outage, and do not plan to stop until we have further answers and plans in place. To read these speeches, visit my website www.petertreloar.com.au
Thank you once again for your interest and assistance with supplying my office with details of how our energy crisis has affected you.