Public Works Committee: Installation of Hybrid Turbines

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:25): I rise to speak on the Installation of Hybrid Turbines as a Long Term Backup Power Plant, the 575th report of the Public Works Committee. Let's make it perfectly clear that this is not going to be hybrid generation: this is diesel generation, diesel generation that this Labor government have been forced to bring in as an emergency measure because of their failed electricity and power reliability policies for almost 16 years.

I have talked about some of these issues in the past when we had the former premier. He had little turbines that he was putting on top of this place, until they worked out they were little more than toys. It was just a gimmick to make out that the government had green credentials. Then we have the over installation of wind energy in this state where around 50 per cent of our energy, something like 1,700 megawatts, is wind energy so the government can spruik their supposed green credentials. The only way these turbines work, obviously, is when the wind is blowing.

Yes, we have a massive amount of solar installed around the state. I have declared in here before that I have solar panels on two of my properties. The issue is that it is because I need to save money, and it does come at significant expense. I note some of the commentary in the media about people with solar panels, but they do come at significant expense. There are far better plans coming online through different companies at the moment, where people can borrow a sizeable amount, if not the whole amount, to install panels on their property. Again, it only puts power into the home system when the sun is shining.

We hear lots of talk about power plants going in around the state and the so-called big battery, which will soon be outdone by the 300 megawatt big battery at Morgan. The Elon Musk battery is only 100 megawatts. You still need the sun to shine or the wind to blow to load these batteries. At the end of the day, we must reflect on where all these green policies have led this state. On 28 September last year, we saw the absolute chaos of a few towers that collapsed 250 kilometres north of Adelaide and power was completely disrupted right across the state, from the north of the state right down to Mount Gambier.

It is completely outrageous that, effectively, our power system is run on one circuit-breaker. It is madness. I have been informed that back in the day when Northern was operating, there were five circuit-breakers, for want of a better word, five systems, so that if one went down it would not pull the whole state down. It is just ridiculous. Who would set up a state to fail like that? The South Australian Labor Party.

It has brought the highest power prices to this state, and they are the highest prices in the world, and the least reliability. It is just outrageous that we are living in basically what many people look at as a Third World state. It has to be a lot better, and it is just madness that we are here. I note that it has been in less than my lifetime that I have had electricity hooked up at Coomandook on the farming property. It was only 1966 when it went through. We still have the old 32-volt engine room along the homestead; I might have to fire it up again with a backup generator the way things are going.

What really gets me is that you do not see the Premier out spruiking the fact that he will be burning millions of litres of diesel when these generators are running to keep power going in this state, to keep the lights on, to keep the air conditioners on and to keep it so that people can stay alive in comfortable surroundings. How green is diesel? I think everyone can work that out. This is because of failed policies. In emergency, the government have had to bring in nine B-doubles of diesel generation to keep this place going.

When 28 September happened—the big blackout, or black Wednesday, as I call it—there was at least $450 million worth of damage across the state, and there were multiple reports of backup generation not kicking in. On the West Coast around Port Lincoln, it did not work; at Flinders Hospital, it did not work; at a whole range of places in various scenarios, power generation failed. Since then, we have had not just industry put in either backup generation or go completely off grid. I have talked before about the new almond hulling plant at Swan Reach, with diesel with battery backup, where it was far cheaper. In fact, it will be hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars cheaper over time for accessing power than hooking into the network.

More and more people are doing this, so over time we will have a grid, essentially, that will not connect anywhere, with more cost to those on the grid. Because of the cost to hook up and the cost of paying for that power, it will be completely out of reach for people, so they will do their own thing. There will be far more of that going into the future, whereas we on this side of the house put up a policy that includes an interconnector to New South Wales. It is interesting that as soon as we come out talking about an interconnector we have the government spruiking that interconnection is no good. They want to live on an island. They want to live totally disconnected from the rest of the country and the national energy market. How ridiculous!

The Heywood interconnector connects us to 650 megawatts of power through to Victoria, and we also have Murray Link, which is a groundbreaking link through to Victoria with two cables buried in the ground at 220 megawatts. We now have 870 megawatts of power on two interconnectors, but we have the Treasurer and the Premier indicating that we want to live on an island. I challenge them: are they going to shut down those interconnectors? Of course they will not. They know that we are absolutely reliant on that interconnection to drag in power from the Eastern States. Where is it generated from? Coal-powered turbines, and this state is still absolutely reliant on that generation because of the intermittency of the variable wind power, and that is exactly what happens.

It was only yesterday during question time that the Treasurer made some claims, and I will quote exactly what he said:

Interestingly, this is the first time South Australia has been a net exporter of energy and our power prices have been lower than those in Victoria.

In regard to his claim that power prices were lower than those of Victoria, it must have been for a very short space of time. Here we have the Treasurer, the energy minister who hates interconnection—he has made that clear earlier—yet here he is spruiking the fact we are a net exporter. You cannot have it both ways, Treasurer and Premier. You cannot have it both ways. It just does not work like that.

You cannot come in here and talk about the net exporting of electricity and in the other breath say, 'We hate interconnection.' It is a ridiculous statement to make. We are part of the national energy market, and as part of our policy we will look at connecting ourselves better to the grid in the Eastern States with $200 million worth of investment. We will not just look at it; we will get an interconnector installed through to New South Wales.

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on this dirty diesel generation because of the failed Labor policies. This is the same government that wants us to live on an island, but when it suits them they are happy to talk about the benefits of exporting wind energy when it does blow to the Eastern States. It is absolutely outrageous, and the government should have a look at how the national energy market works and what is best for this state in regard to reliability and power pricing.