The Queensland government has introduced to the state parliament the legislation on the establishment of publicly-owned energy generator CleanCo, which will build, construct, own and maintain renewable energy generation in the state.
The bill, when passed, will ensure CleanCo employees and people transferring from the other government-owned generators will have the same protections as other government-owned corporation employees – the new generator is designated as a state electricity entity. It will also ensure CleanCo can be designated as a ‘State Electricity Entity’ subject to government directions.
“Our support of the renewable energy sector means 4,000 Queenslanders are now employed in these jobs. CleanCo will be fully operating with its own generation assets this year and that means more jobs for more Queenslanders,” Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said, noting that the generator would be all Queensland and all renewable.
However, it appears that CleanCo’s assets will not be all green, but also include gas. According to the government, CleanCo’s foundation generation assets will be transferred from the other two publicly-owned energy companies: the Wivenhoe pumped hydro power station near Ipswich, from CS Energy, and Stanwell Corporation’s Swanbank E gas-fired power station in the south-east and Barron Gorge, Kareeya and Koombooloomba hydro plants in Far North Queensland.
The Palaszczuk Government came up with a plan in the lead up to the 2017 election to restructure its two publicly-owned electricity generation companies into three, creating a strategic portfolio of low and zero emissions power generation assets designed to reduce power prices, known as CleanCo.
The delayed establishment of the state-owned renewable energy corporation kicked off in August with an expectation the generator would start trading in the NEM this year, subject to receiving regulatory approvals.
The mission of the new state-owned renewable electricity generator will be to operate Queensland’s existing renewable and low-emissions energy generation assets and develop 1 GW of new renewable energy projects by 2025 with an eye on the state’s ambitious Renewable Energy Target of 50% by 2030. It is also expected to help place further downward pressure on electricity prices.
According to preliminary analysis, CleanCo should reduce wholesale electricity prices on average by around $7/MWh, which is expected to translate to an estimated $70 per annum saving for the average Queensland household.
Minister Lynham said CleanCo was key to the Palaszczuk Government’s strategy to create jobs and business opportunities in an export-orientated renewable energy sector.
“Queensland has seen 21 large-scale renewable energy projects commence operations in just over two years, and we have another $2.5 billion worth of investment on the books. Queensland consumers have taken up our renewable programs enthusiastically, with more than 2,000 applications to my department for our latest interest-free loans and grants for solar and batteries,” he said.
Last week, the government announced CleanCo’s first two key executives. Former Infigen Energy boss Miles George is CleanCo’s interim chief executive officer and Geoff Dutaillis, who served as CEO Australia at Wind Energy Holding Co Ltd and Chief Operating Officer at Infigen Energy, has been appointed executive general manager – transition.