Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
WA wants green power after getting green ligh -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

WA wants green power after getting green light

David Weber reported this story on Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:50:00

Federal authorities have given the go-ahead for Western Australia's second desalination plant, but
the State Government says it wants the plant to be fully powered by renewable energy. The previous
government was criticised for not following through on the same claim.

PETER CAVE: The West Australian Government says it wants the state's second desalination plant to
be fully powered by renewable energy.

The Federal Environment Department has given the go ahead for the $1-billion facility at Binningup,
south of Perth.

The previous WA government promised the first desalination plant would be powered by renewable
energy but last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced the state's Water
Corporation to stop claiming the plant was carbon-neutral.

David Weber reports.

DAVID WEBER: The Conservation Council says the former government failed to meet its commitments.

The council's Piers Verstegen:

PIERS VERSTEGEN: The greenhouse emissions resulting from West Australia's water supply have
sky-rocketed in the last year so we want to make sure that this second desalination plant is
genuinely powered by renewable energy so we don't see a massive spike again in our greenhouse

DAVID WEBER: The desalination plant at Kwinana gets its power from the energy retailer Synergy,
which has a contract with the Emu Plains wind farm.

The Competition and Consumer Commission and the state's Auditor-General raised issues with claims
the plant was actually being powered by renewable energy.

And, as Piers Verstegen says, it turned out the carbon credits were fudged.

PIERS VERSTEGEN: The credits for that renewable energy were actually sold again to a third party
who was able to claim an offset in relation to those renewable energy certificates. So there was a
situation where more than one company was claiming the offset for that renewable energy and it was
shown that it was actually not additional renewable energy that was brought online as a result of
that desalination plant.

DAVID WEBER: The current Government would prefer not to use offsets. The Water Minister Graham
Jacobs says the Government wants to use renewable energy.

GRAHAM JACOBS: When it was said that it was going to be generated and powered by renewable energy
that that in fact hadn't been happening. So we're very, David we're very conscious of that. When we
say that it will be powered by renewable energy, the Cabinet and myself are resolved that that
should happen.

DAVID WEBER: The members of the Binningup Desal Action Group are disappointed but not surprised.

The group's secretary Tim Hunter says they did win some concessions.

TIM HUNTER: I believe we were instrumental in getting the, via the whole project to be a controlled
action under the federal legislation. The outcome of that is one of the conditions is a five-year
study into the marine environment and also a five-year study into the ring tail possum population,
which I think are great environmental benefits.

DAVID WEBER: Mr Hunter says he believes the State Government should focus on better management of
existing resources.

TIM HUNTER: Certainly as a lay person it appears to me that first of all they've got all the
infrastructure with a lot of leakages. The rainfall data which I've seen for (inaudible) doesn't
appear to match what they're saying.

DAVID WEBER: So even though the group has failed to stop the plant going ahead, you still believe
that it has been worthwhile?

TIM HUNTER: Oh absolutely. I mean it's been a hard two years. It's a very, very complex and
difficult process to get a handle on. Certainly the environmental processes are, well what should
we say, they're supposed to be open but you have to know that it's happening. The federal one we
fell across by accident.

So for a lay person coming out of the community it's very, very hard to find your way around the,
certainly the EPA processes.

DAVID WEBER: Construction on the new plant is expected to start at Binningup in the next few weeks.

PETER CAVE: David Weber reporting.