Regional energy production central to Australia's economic growth

Reidun Berntsen
July 11 2024 - 4:55pm
NSW Senator Deborah O'Neill, NSW Minister for Energy and Climate Change Penny Sharpe, Mayor of Lithgow Maree Statham, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, General Manager of Lithgow City Council Ross Gurney and Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman. Picture by Reidun Berntsen.
NSW Senator Deborah O'Neill, NSW Minister for Energy and Climate Change Penny Sharpe, Mayor of Lithgow Maree Statham, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, General Manager of Lithgow City Council Ross Gurney and Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman. Picture by Reidun Berntsen.

Mount Piper near Lithgow, NSW will continue playing an important role in the nation's energy production as Labor endorses green energy projects by site owners Energy Australia.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen visited the power station with Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman, NSW Senator Deborah O'Neill and NSW Minister for Energy and Climate Change Penny Sharpe to reinforce Labor's commitment to the company's future energy production projects in the region.

Projects proposed by Energy Australia for the region include a 500-megawatt big battery at Mount Piper and a pumped hydro facility at Lake Lyell- which was declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW government.

Mr Bowen said the Lithgow region plays a paramount role in the future of Australia's energy.

"Regions like this are central to our renewable energy future. Central to Australia's economic future," Mr Bowen said.

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Mr Bowen said the primary feedback he has been hearing from community members is the concern for immediate job security during the energy transition.

"What locals have said to me is they need investment now," Mr Bowen said.

"Not in 30 or 40 years time, but today."

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen speaks at Mount Piper alongside Energy Australia's Executive of Operations and Projects Sue Elliot. Picture by Reidun Berntsen.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen speaks at Mount Piper alongside Energy Australia's Executive of Operations and Projects Sue Elliot. Picture by Reidun Berntsen.

Mr Bowen criticised Opposition leader Peter Dutton's proposal for nuclear energy on the site due to the amount of time it will take to complete.

"I'm not sure if Mr Dutton or Mr O'Brien have been here, but they have a plan for nuclear power, which is at least 30 years away," Mr Bowen said.

"They admit 2035 at its earliest. Even though it's wild, ambitious and wildly optimistic it doesn't fix problems today, it doesn't create jobs today and it doesn't create investment today."

Mayor of Lithgow, Maree Statham said Lithgow Council are learning as much as possible to ensure the best outcome for the region.

"As far Lithgow City Council goes, I feel that any information we can obtain, whether it's with Minister Bowen or the opposition, we take it all in and then we go to the people," Mayor Statham said.

"I think there's going to be an industry and development in the next 10 years. We've got so many aspects of a great way of living here.

"We've got a wonderful community, and I'm sure that in the new few deep years there will be lots of growth and prosperity.

Ms Sharpe said the state is already taking action in the transition period.

"The transition is underway and in NSW we have a really clear plan to transition our electricity system, working to carefully manage the exit of coal power over time, putting in batteries," she said.

"We're working with local communities to put solar and batteries in their home as well.

"We're doing all of that at the same time."

According to Mr Bowen, he has been visiting sites around the country that host power stations such as Port Augusta in South Australia.

"These are all regions which are seeing massive investments in renewable energy in the future," Mr Bowen said.

"All of these regions have hosted coal fire power stations in the past or do currently.

"The regions that have powered Australia for so long will be the regions that power us into the future."

Reidun Berntsen

Reidun Berntsen

Journalist

Reidun is a Journalist and writer who lives in a country town 3 hours from Sydney, Australia. From a young age, Reidun has been in love with words and the infinite possibilities they bring. Stories, features and poems have been a major part of her writing career.