Energy Security Answers Lie Beneath Our Feet
February 14th, 2017
In the wake of last week’s heatwave that left New South Wales’s power supply teetering on the edge, newly installed Energy and Utilities Minister Don Harwin has vowed to take the issue of energy security to the upcoming COAG Energy Council meeting, where he will also announce details of a Statewide Energy Security Taskforce.
Quite apart from the COAG process and the pontifications of a Taskforce, there is a simple measure that the NSW Government could take to secure the State’s energy supplies – by expediting approvals for the development of the massive natural gas resources that lie under NSW, and by staring down the increasingly hysterical scare campaigns being mounted by activist groups who are hell bent on stopping fossil fuel development altogether.
The history of gas development in NSW in recent years is a sorry tale – from the Doubtful Creek and Glenugie blockades, to Fullerton Cove and then the Government blinking in the face of the Bentley Blockade and suspending exploration licenses.
Coupled with AGL’s decision to withdraw from the proposed Gloucester project and shutter their existing Camden Gas Plant early, and the result has been a long period of inertia.
The NSW Chief Scientist undertook the most comprehensive review of the coal seam gas industry in Australia, finding that the industry can proceed with appropriate regulatory oversight.
The State’s response – almost two years ago – was the NSW Gas Plan, which included a commitment to strategic release of more development areas.
Now, with Santos submitting a 5000 page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Narrabri Gas Project and APA Group beginning work on assessing a pipeline to connect the Narrabri project to the main Moomba pipeline, NSW could find itself at the centre of a new gas development boom – with local gas fuelling efficient gas-fired power stations.
But to get there, the policy settings need to be right. The State and Federal Government need to ensure that the gate is well and truly unlocked to responsible gas development.