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Canberra disowns dirty little secret at Dalton

By John Thistleton - 27 June 2017 29

This sign outside the Dalton hotel shows how people feel about AGL’s gas-fired power plant

So how clean and renewable is the ACT’s power plan to combat climate change?

Well, it’s the best in Australia on any measure says the ACT Government. Wind and solar energy investment, more and more battery storage, and divesting in fossil fuel companies.

The investment includes a subsidy to achieve the 100 per cent renewable energy supply by 2020. This subsidy will peak at $5.50 a week for every household in 2020.

All in all a commendable effort. Just don’t mention Dalton. Dalton you ask?

Eighty kilometres north of the ACT, a proposed $1.5 billion gas-fired power station at Dalton, if approved, will be Canberra’s dirty (not-so-)little secret. Canberra’s electricity utility, the one that pays the territory regular dividends, is in partnership with AGL, which is proposing the new gas-fired power station.

When all that solar and wind energy and battery storage fall short of meeting base load demand it will be this gas-fired plant and other fossil-fuel generators feeding into the national grid that keep the power on in Canberra.

It is reasonable to allow a phase out period of coal and gas while renewables scale up for the job ahead, but how much slower will that transition be due to AGL’s new gas-fired power station at Dalton?

Nine years ago ActewAGL abandoned plans for a gas-fired plant in Tuggeranong. Then a bigger one at Williamsdale, about 45 kilometres south of the city was proposed and deemed important. It too was scrapped.

AGL says renewable energy still needs a back-up source for peak demand and that gas is the best transition option, emitting less greenhouse gases than coal.

Mike Stone values his sustainable lifestyle at Dalton

About 100 people live in Dalton, a quiet village three kilometres from AGL’s proposed gas-fired peaking plant. Mike Stone returned to Dalton from Canberra after a career in the public service. He lives off-grid in a cottage near his great grandfather’s 180 year-old wood slab building which he restored.

AGL’s revival of a huge gas-fired peaking plant, with up to six jet turbines and 45m – high exhaust stacks is a nightmare for villagers. AGL says it will modify its original plan lodged in 2012, but no one knows what the latest modification will be.

“The village is horrified,” Mr Stone says. “We thought it was all over. AGL was not on my radar when I moved back here three-and-a-half years ago to invest my life savings into my dream to live a more simple and sustainable life.’’
Mr Stone says AGL’s fossil-fuelled power plant across the ACT border is inconsistent with its commitment to Canberrans. “How can AGL be a respected partner in the Canberra energy plan under these circumstances?’’ he said.
AGL is now asking NSW planning for a two year extension to its 2012 development approval because of industry developments over the past five years.

“Dalton in the last five years has changed too,” Mr Stone says. “It is on the map as the next Murrumbateman or Gundaroo. We have had over $15 million worth of real estate investment here since AGL suspended the project in 2012.

“These families bought land and built their homes with no knowledge of AGL’s plans. They may well have borrowed more than what their property will be worth if the project proceeds. Many planned developments have also been put on hold. Land sales have stopped.”

“There are no trees, there are no hills between the town and the proposed site. There is no buffer visual, or acoustic – the plant will overlook the town,” Mr Stone says. “ Many homes have direct line of sight of the proposed power station. Several homes are within 2 km.”

In recent times climate change campaigners like the ACT Conservation Council and 350.org have convinced the ACT Government to divest in fossil fuel companies, including AGL. But they won’t comment on AGL’s partnership or gas-fired power aspirations for Dalton. Acting Climate Change Minister Mick Gentleman was invited to comment and declined. Minister Shane Rattenbury is on leave.

Do you think the government is being hypocritical being in partnership with AGL, saying nothing about a new, dirty big fossil fuel plant in Dalton while claiming to be Australia’s leader in renewable energy?

Captions: top, this sign outside the Dalton hotel shows how people feel about AGL’s gas-fired power plant. Above, Mike Stone values his sustainable lifestyle at Dalton. Photos: John Thistleton.

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29 Responses to
Canberra disowns dirty little secret at Dalton
mike stone 8:12 pm 27 Jun 17

CanberraStreets commented:

“ . . . . Any government given the choice between sourcing consistent power for its citizens and making a noble stand for 100 people who can’t even vote for it will be expected to sacrifice the 100 people”

No truer words in today’s world it would seem. This is our greatest concern in Dalton that we are viewed as expendable by government. That we don’t matter!

Is it really ok to put at risk the livelihoods of 100 people for convenience and profit . . for the luxury of running the second TV, or the second fridge to hold the beer. By my standards it is not ok . . not by any measure.

ACT residents twice stopped a gas fired peaking power plant being built within the ACT border because they had the numbers.

The values of governments should not change simply because the issue is pushed a few kilometres further down the road, or reglardless of the distance, because of a thin burgundy line signifying a border on a map.

Is the ACT government in support of the gas fired power plant being built just across the ACT border in Dalton NSW? It is a fair question to ask.

Cas An Dra 6:53 pm 27 Jun 17

This town is always dealt crumbs but we deal with it .
Why ? We love it here , fresh rain water , grow veg ,clean air
I’ve noticed our town has started to grow & the majority is people escaping the Sydney smog life to live a healthy rural lifestyle .
It will pose great impact on health ,elderly , farming , air qualify , rain water ,produce, property value .
I ask those that oppose why we shouldn’t be fighting against it! Would you want to purchase your home ,to have it devalue & still remain paying the same mortgage .
I doubt that , we all dream of retirement , living to enjoy it .
Canberra didn’t want it &we share that same strong view .
Put it where no one will be affected .
Australia is a huge place , many places out there where people are not in close proximity .
They’ve chosen here cause it’s cheap to buy , but to us it’s 10 years to make $5k profit .
It will destroy our community , economy , industries & environment .
The power will not benefit our town , it’s for Sydney.
We don’t want to smell it , breathe it , here it , see it , feel it .
This place was barely on the map until AGL sunk its claws in , tricking few folk into taking their measly offers .
They are deceatful &cant be trusted , fail to answer the simplest questions.
before choosing to find fault in our comments , find it in your hearts to see it from our side .
I don’t want my house to be unsellable ,my health to decline before it’s due time .
We work hard ,look forward to retiring .

Maya123 6:32 pm 27 Jun 17
AllanaC 5:42 pm 27 Jun 17

My husband and I fell in love with Dalton, bought land, built a new house and moved to Dalton last November all this was done not knowing anything about the proposed Gas power plant. Us like many other new residents to the area have invested in the clean quite country living plus on top of this us like all of the long term locals cannot afford to move and start again. There has been over 15 million dollars invested into this area since 2014, that has to say something for the area. Someone out there has to be able to help put a stop to this Gas plant so everyone can get on with their lives.

Paul Nesbitt 2:02 pm 27 Jun 17

I have seen AGL doing some trumpet blowing in the media regarding their movement from away fossil fuels. I must have missed the reference to this project.

CanberraStreets 11:53 am 27 Jun 17

I can see this could be a serious problem for the residents of Dalton if the approval extention has been granted and the development actually proceeds). The development is an AGL one and its web-site refers to the power station to be part of the NSW response to its energy needs. I get that the ACT suckles at the breast of the NSW power system, but I am not sure the allegations against us are entirely well founded.

Seems to me that the ACT is doing what it can to minimise its use of the power generated so evilly across our border. Many of us pay our green power levy, have installed our solar panels and try to not be profligate with our usage. naturally, we could do better . . .

Any government given the choice between sourcing consistent power for its citizens and making a noble stand for 100 people who can’t even vote for it will be expected to sacrifice the 100 people and not lose any sleep. In any event, seems unlikely that the partnership between ACTEW-as-was and AGL would materially help the ACT lobbying AGL on behalf of Dalton; from AGL’s perspective the partnership is a very minor part of their operation. If the ACT steps up for Dalton, how not for the other townships living with the threat of proposed power stations with development approval?

I assume that the residents of Dalton are currently on the NSW power grid and so are also the beneficiaries of the system that is now threatening them.

dungfungus 11:37 am 27 Jun 17

John Thistleton said :

Without methane gas burners the smell across Tuggeranong would be even worse. As for the other Canberra polluters, they do not excuse a potential polluter near Dalton. Shifting a nasty into the rural back blocks may take the heat off the proponents temporarily, but is a poor option that will delay the territory’s much celebrated switch to renewables.

With respect John, we are talking about emissions, nasty ones too and not smell which according to TAMS doesn’t exist anyhow.

Steven Heffernan 11:05 am 27 Jun 17

Yes however that article points out that it will be added to an existing power station and it is 250Mw not the proposed 1000Mw thats proposed for Dalton. Its also a ship? so I would be a temporary solution, AGL’s proposed power plant is not and its massive. Whats the life expectancy of a power station?

dungfungus said :

South Australia is considering this solution to their now chronic power shortages:

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2017/06/turkish-power-ship-proposed-for-adelaide.html

It would look good in the middle of LBG; Canberra could do with some industry vistas and we could purge our guilt at the same time.

John Thistleton 10:58 am 27 Jun 17

Without methane gas burners the smell across Tuggeranong would be even worse. As for the other Canberra polluters, they do not excuse a potential polluter near Dalton. Shifting a nasty into the rural back blocks may take the heat off the proponents temporarily, but is a poor option that will delay the territory’s much celebrated switch to renewables.

Josh Creaser 10:52 am 27 Jun 17

Thanks to the Fossil Free ACT campaign the Government has divested from AGL (and dozens of other coal/oil/gas companies), as it is one of the biggest fossil fuel companies on the planet. It was a wise move and aligned the Government’s energy policy with its investments. So questions should rightly be asked about the ACT Government’s relationship with AGL through ActewAGL. At the very least, Barr and the ACT Government should be encouraging AGL to stop keeping the Dalton community in the lurch and direct its attention to renewables and storage.

dungfungus 10:43 am 27 Jun 17

Leslie Bush said :

As one of those families who are closest to the proposed Power Project I find it appalling that any Government can justify sacrificing our community to corporate greed. Does the words, ‘2 in the bed, and the little one said, ‘roll over’ mean something here! It is about time, people stood up and paid attention to what Corporate and Government Greed is doing to our land. As 7th Generation farmers we won’t be silenced, swept under the rug…nor will we Roll Over!!! We are not Collateral Damage. There is no need for a Gas Fired Power Station..Renewables are the future, start here, start now and scrap this disgusting proposal for what it is…Corporate Greed!

“Renewables are the future…..”

Only with base load power unfortunately and gas-peakers like you are getting are the only compromise available at this stage.

dungfungus 10:36 am 27 Jun 17

South Australia is considering this solution to their now chronic power shortages:

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2017/06/turkish-power-ship-proposed-for-adelaide.html

It would look good in the middle of LBG; Canberra could do with some industry vistas and we could purge our guilt at the same time.

Steven Heffernan 10:30 am 27 Jun 17

This development will destroy the the local community as has been seen with the Uranquinty plant. How can AGL justify building a massive industrial power plant just Km’s from a small local community. There are so many people who have moved out to Gunning and Dalton and the surrounding area to enjoy the peaceful rural lifestyle.
As we increase our reliance on renewables we may need some short term generation until the utilities stand-up grid storage however building the largest gas fired gas peaking plant in Australia is not the answer and especially not in a small rural community.
There has to be a better solution than this, the Federal Governments Snowy Hydro 2.0 is a great start, SA’s grid storage announcement is also great, we need more of these projects.
We need to start building our future now. Say no to AGLs Dalton Gas Fired Power Plant.

dungfungus 9:39 am 27 Jun 17

“AGL’s revival of a huge gas-fired peaking plant, with up to six jet turbines ……………………………….”

John, how are the part-time emissions at Dalton going to be any worse that the full-time emissions we get in Canberra from the 3 huge diesel converted to land-fill methane powered generators at the MLRMC and the dozens of jet engines attached to aircraft using Canberra Airport.
Both these Canberra facilities affect more than 100 people too.

Leslie Bush 9:17 am 27 Jun 17

As one of those families who are closest to the proposed Power Project I find it appalling that any Government can justify sacrificing our community to corporate greed. Does the words, ‘2 in the bed, and the little one said, ‘roll over’ mean something here! It is about time, people stood up and paid attention to what Corporate and Government Greed is doing to our land. As 7th Generation farmers we won’t be silenced, swept under the rug…nor will we Roll Over!!! We are not Collateral Damage. There is no need for a Gas Fired Power Station..Renewables are the future, start here, start now and scrap this disgusting proposal for what it is…Corporate Greed!

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