SA solar campaign reaches government level

19th Oct 2012

A grassroots campaign to have Port Augusta's ageing coal-fired power stations replaced with environmentally-friendly alternatives has reached government level.

The movement, started by Beyond Zero Emissions, argues that solar thermal plants would not only reduce South Australia's (SA's) carbon emissions by five million tonnes a year, there would also be 1,800 jobs created in the region.

Entitled Repower Port Augusta, the scheme has been backed by a number of politicians, as well as numerous members of the general public.

And now it appears the government is taking notice – announcing that it supports a motion put forward by the Opposition to examine renewable energy options and will be forming a parliamentary select committee to review the benefits.

Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Liberal Party state member for Stuart, forwarded the motion and claimed there was no political motive behind the action.

In fact, he was quoted by ABC News as saying it was extremely important for SA to examine renewable solutions.

"I want solar thermal to be investigated very, very thoroughly so that we can know 'is it going to be the solution to the problem we will have when the Leigh Creek coal runs out?' There's no politics in this for me. This is nothing mischievous," he stated.

Despite this seemingly altruistic intention, SA energy minister Tom Koutsantonis wasted no opportunity in criticising the opposing party.

While he acknowledged his support for the motion, owing to the fact the government is a keen supporter of sustainable technologies, he lambasted Opposition leader Isobel Redmond for derogatory remarks she allegedly made about renewables.

"Ms Redmond said recently that if every industry that created wind turbines fell over she wouldn't lose any sleep over it," he said.

However, he applauded Mr van Holst Pellekaan for his intentions, adding that as one of the party's rising stars he had "captured the imagination of South Australians".

Supporters of the Repower Port Augusta scheme embarked on a mission to walk from the town to Adelaide in an effort to raise awareness.

They reached their destination late last month, where they met further demonstrators and rallied outside Parliament House.

And they're not the only ones to voice their support, with Greens senator for SA Sarah Hanson-Young also getting behind the campaign.

Ms Hanson-Young called it "hugely beneficial" for the environment and claimed the initial costs of set-up would be quickly recouped by long-term savings on fuel expenses.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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