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[Announcement that Australia's largest solar power station is to be built at Coober Pedy]

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Media Release Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey has welcomed the announcement that Australia's largest solar power station is to be built at Coober Pedy. The solar power station is expected to provide more than 10 per cent of the town’s electricity needs and is expected to begin generating electricity by the end of 2009. The $7.1 million project will feature 26 solar dishes, each one 14 metres high, to produce 1,860 megawatt hours of power each year. Currently in Coober Pedy, powered entirely by diesel generators, residents are paying up to four times as much as city consumers for electricity. Mr Ramsey wants assurance from the government that this new facility providing “green” electricity to the town will also lead to a reduction in power prices. When speaking to constituents in Coober Pedy, it became clear the high price of electricity in the community is not only a huge challenge for local businesses, it is an enormously difficult problem for householders to deal with. In an environment like Coober Pedy the use of air conditioning is not optional, it is essential, leading to consumers dealing with bills of over $1000 a month. This is a huge impediment to all, but proves a special difficulty to families living in indigenous housing. The State and Federal Governments also have the opportunity to assist these families, by extending their Solar Hot Water Rebate schemes to rental housing where the dwellings are operated by a “not for profit” organisation such as Umoona Council. This small alteration would cut power bills for those who can never find the cash in their household budgets to install these systems. Media Contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith (08) 8633 1744 Feb 20, 2008