Greens MLC John Kaye with local resident Shae Miller at the Lismore electricity substation at Keys Hill.
Greens MLC John Kaye with local resident Shae Miller at the Lismore electricity substation at Keys Hill.

Greens slam power plan

Plans to replace the existing power lines between Tenterfield and Lismore have come under fire from Greens MLC John Kaye.

State owned power company Transgrid plans to increase electricity supply to the North Coast by replacing the existing wooden power poles with new high voltage metal towers. With a projected cost of about $227 million, Dr Kaye said the new line is not needed.

“Transgrid has ignored cleaner, lower-impact energy alternatives and have based their plans on dodgy predictions of population growth,” Dr Kaye said. “The company have justified their plans based on false figures which say that future new residents in the area will consume 40% more electricity than currently predicted.”

Recent population projections are for about 10% growth over the next 10 years. Dr Kaye also said, over the past four years, the maximum electricity demand has remained static or has declined.

“The company has not crunched the numbers right and have come up with their own demand growth projections.

“As long as Transgrid builds these power lines on the North Coast, we are locked into a non-renewable energy future,” Dr Kaye said.

Dr Kaye said future energy needs should be met by locally-produced, renewable energy sources such as solar, rather than through a coal-fired supply from outside the area.

“We need a green power supply for the future, not a black one,” he said. “It would be better for the economy and the environment if local jobs were created in installing and maintaining a local energy infrastructure and supply.”

With Transgrid's Environmental Impact Statement due to come out in October, Mr Kaye said the company plans to begin construction later next year on their preferred route.

“This is an example of a state owned company running riot,” Dr Kaye said. “We need to see more political accountability for these decisions and avoid an environmental catastrophe.”

Dr Kaye will be bringing the matter to the attention of state energy minister John Robertson at the next sitting of parliament.

Responding to health safety concerns from rural landowners situated on the new line's route, Lismore City Councillor Simon Clough said the effects of electro-magnetic radiation on humans were not properly known.

“The government is showing double standards by allowing construction of high voltage power lines on rural properties when we are not allowed to construct them near schools,” Cr Clough said.

Cr Clough said, if the local power supply needed a boost, then the quickest and most cost-effective way to do it would be through Metgasco's gas-fired power station based in Queensland.

“Rather than building new infrastructure, power companies should be considering demand management. There is new equipment out for monitoring electricity use and helping to reduce peak load,” Cr Clough said. “We should also make it mandatory for all new houses to have solar hot water systems.”

Mr Clough also said that the current tariff offered to suppliers of green power was not enough to encourage more solar power generators. “People with systems of 10 watt or greater are only offered three cents per kilowatt hour for generating electricity, whereas I pay 35 cents per hour to Country Energy for green power,” he said. “It's time that people had a choice about how our electricity is generated and used. If we want to make changes for the environment, then we need to demand changes from our electricity service providers.

“Electricity costs are rising every year and there are a lot of pensioners and people with low income in this area who are hurting.”

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