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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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Canberra disowns dirty little secret at Dalton
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Jack Russell 9:24 pm 03 Jul 17

The power station uses large volumes of gas and will run on average four hours per day.
Most of the 700kgs (per second) of exhaust coming from each turbine is heavier than air and comprises of NOx, BTEX and particulate matter. Depending on weather conditions, it will pool around Dalton or dump on Gunning or Yass.

The station will certainly impact on ACT as AGL is tapping into the Moomba line upstream of the Canberra branch line so Canberra can expect to have gas shortages as the demand timings will coincide.

The AGL site is 3-4km from the village because they didn’t want to spend money extending their branch line any further out to a safer location.

Steven Heffernan 11:17 am 30 Jun 17

dungfungus said :

Steven Heffernan said :

I lived in Canberra for most of my life, I work in IT, We have a big screen TV, surround sound stereo, Xbox Play station, all the mod cons.
12 months ago I moved to Gunning( near Dalton) to build my dream home and live a more sustainable life. I also choose to go off grid. I have solar and batteries, no generator no grid backup.
I still work in IT( in Canberra), still have the Big screen TV, surround sound stereo, xbox, play station etc.
However with a little care I use about half the electricity that I did in Canberra and about a third that of the average Australian house.
If people were more careful with their use( saving money in doing so, that 15-20% price hike should be kicking in any minute) there would be no need for this peaking station as we transitioned to full renewables. Remember these peakers run when demand and therefor prices are high. Gas plants also produce 80-85% the CO2 that Coal does, so not really environmentally friendly.
Yes we need a way to transition to carbon neutral grid but with demand management this could be achieved with existing plants and not by building the largest Gas peaker in Australia . Its not just a Dalton\Gunning issue its an issue for ACT. NSW and Australia in the debate for carbon neutral power generation and stopping and reversing climate change. ITs an issue for us all.

If you live at Gunning and commute to Canberra where you work then you would be driving a car and that wouldn’t be electric I guess so you have a big carbon footprint there.

Some of us in Canberra will soon be commuting in trams which have no carbon foot print, so we are told, but who can believe anything a politician says these days?

I drive a small car( very good mileage) when I have my kids and ride a motorcycle when I don’t( even better mileage). I also try to work from home where I can( fantastic mileage 😉 ).
I have thought of getting an electric car and will once they are a little more mainstream. Maybe an electric bike too. This technology is developing rapidly and once there is some more competition there will be a much better range.
As a percentage its about 40% power generation, 22% transport on average, so I have actually minimised the best I can.

Canberra as a whole seem to support environmentally friendly idea’s, they voted in 2 Greens members, have supported the green energy plans of the local Government. but other than the Tip methane power generators( which I believe were put in to combat the methane from the tip, as methane is 30 times worse than CO2 as a green house gas) Canberra relies on other states for their power when you are not generating enough from your solar farms, you also pay extra for “green” energy however, is the electron that you are using actually coming from renewables?
Its a question that should rightly be asked as your supplier( well 50% of ACTEWAGL) and local Government is still heavily investing in fossil fuel power generation.

dungfungus 10:16 pm 29 Jun 17

Steven Heffernan said :

I lived in Canberra for most of my life, I work in IT, We have a big screen TV, surround sound stereo, Xbox Play station, all the mod cons.
12 months ago I moved to Gunning( near Dalton) to build my dream home and live a more sustainable life. I also choose to go off grid. I have solar and batteries, no generator no grid backup.
I still work in IT( in Canberra), still have the Big screen TV, surround sound stereo, xbox, play station etc.
However with a little care I use about half the electricity that I did in Canberra and about a third that of the average Australian house.
If people were more careful with their use( saving money in doing so, that 15-20% price hike should be kicking in any minute) there would be no need for this peaking station as we transitioned to full renewables. Remember these peakers run when demand and therefor prices are high. Gas plants also produce 80-85% the CO2 that Coal does, so not really environmentally friendly.
Yes we need a way to transition to carbon neutral grid but with demand management this could be achieved with existing plants and not by building the largest Gas peaker in Australia . Its not just a Dalton\Gunning issue its an issue for ACT. NSW and Australia in the debate for carbon neutral power generation and stopping and reversing climate change. ITs an issue for us all.

If you live at Gunning and commute to Canberra where you work then you would be driving a car and that wouldn’t be electric I guess so you have a big carbon footprint there.

Some of us in Canberra will soon be commuting in trams which have no carbon foot print, so we are told, but who can believe anything a politician says these days?

Jay Gribbin 6:27 pm 29 Jun 17

The reason this involves Canberra is that the ACT government is spruiking 100% renewables by 2020 and yet the company that provides the electricity/gas to Canberra is proposing a huge gas peaking plant just outside the ACT. Electricity is just that, it arrives at your house via poles and wires and despite what you may pay in “green power” penalties the electricity you get comes from all sources coal, gas, hydro, wind, solar. It cannot be segregated so you only get green power. If the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing your power will come from a non renewable plant such as the one proposed in Dalton. Dalton is a town of about 100 people. It is a rural area with a background noise in the vicinity of 20dbA.The output from the power station stacks is 103dbA.This is equivalent to a pneumatic jack hammer at a distance of 1 metre. With nothing but a clear valley between the proposed plant and the town, AGL claims that this noise will attenuate down to 60dBA. Even if this fanciful claim were true, every 10dbA rise doubles the perceived loudness of the sound. If the noise around your house increased by 40dbA,do you think you could live there? How do you think your real estate values would fare? This project complies with NSW ‘industrial noise regs’. The problem is industrial regs have no place in a rural area. We hope you will help us by contacting your politicians and bringing to their attention, that the AGL part of ACTEW/AGL is proposing this completely non renewable power station, despite the governments stand on renewables.

Steven Heffernan 6:18 pm 29 Jun 17

I lived in Canberra for most of my life, I work in IT, We have a big screen TV, surround sound stereo, Xbox Play station, all the mod cons.
12 months ago I moved to Gunning( near Dalton) to build my dream home and live a more sustainable life. I also choose to go off grid. I have solar and batteries, no generator no grid backup.
I still work in IT( in Canberra), still have the Big screen TV, surround sound stereo, xbox, play station etc.
However with a little care I use about half the electricity that I did in Canberra and about a third that of the average Australian house.
If people were more careful with their use( saving money in doing so, that 15-20% price hike should be kicking in any minute) there would be no need for this peaking station as we transitioned to full renewables. Remember these peakers run when demand and therefor prices are high. Gas plants also produce 80-85% the CO2 that Coal does, so not really environmentally friendly.
Yes we need a way to transition to carbon neutral grid but with demand management this could be achieved with existing plants and not by building the largest Gas peaker in Australia . Its not just a Dalton\Gunning issue its an issue for ACT. NSW and Australia in the debate for carbon neutral power generation and stopping and reversing climate change. ITs an issue for us all.

mike stone 9:38 am 29 Jun 17

MERC600 said :

The good people of Dalton appealing to Canberrans to stop the gas peaking power plant should really look somewhere else.
Canberrans don’t give a rats about the ‘prettiness’ of a area as long as it helps towards giving renewable energy.
Look at the way we pay for wind farms to desecrate the land in other States, and indeed in todays paper more windmills are to blight the land at Ararat in Victoria. The photo shows lovely green rolling hills with windmills all over it.

So good luck to you in Dalton, but I regret I won’t be putting any money on yous to win this.

The irony – combating the impact that unsustainable cities are having on climate change has led to the possible demise of our little town and surrounding farm land that grows clean food and fibre for the cities.

The farmland in the southern tablelands of NSW and country Victoria is turning in to nothing more than a giant power generator to run the Televisions and aiconditioners in the urban sprawl of our major cities.

Cas An Dra 7:49 pm 28 Jun 17

The reason dalton is now confronted by this is because the people of Canberra fought hard enough to not have it in there backyards .
So they have slugged there way to our town .
I have tried to look at this very open mindely trust me and I can’t find any benefit or reason why it would be good for our town .
It will cause vibration ,enough to rattle windows as stated by themselves when they tried to buy off one of our elderly .the emissions will settle in our down pipes there for making our rain water u drinkable , our veggie patches will be contaminated , it will kill our rare species of fish that lives in the water ways that run close to there sight, a lot of our population are elderly , this is found to increase hospitalisation rate in people with respitory issues myself included .
The list goes on .
It’s to be situated 3 Klms from a primary school .
Realestate agents have proven it will not just decrease our values but simply stop potential buyers .
I bought here one month after they went dormant in 2012 was not told of the plan .
I wouldn’t have bought here knowing that .
We have several earthquakes , what will happen if it hits there given that it’s in direct line of the fault line .
It’s only a matter of time until history repeats itself and a big sucker hits us .
All over they are becoming more frequent .
They will be tapping into bores ,known in one instance to have used up to half in one test effecting a neighbouring property .
what will be when in full function . Many rely on bore water here

dungfungus 5:14 pm 28 Jun 17

MERC600 said :

The good people of Dalton appealing to Canberrans to stop the gas peaking power plant should really look somewhere else.
Canberrans don’t give a rats about the ‘prettiness’ of a area as long as it helps towards giving renewable energy.
Look at the way we pay for wind farms to desecrate the land in other States, and indeed in todays paper more windmills are to blight the land at Ararat in Victoria. The photo shows lovely green rolling hills with windmills all over it.

So good luck to you in Dalton, but I regret I won’t be putting any money on yous to win this.

And keep your mitts off our Hume Heap open-air recycling factory too!
Get your own.

MERC600 3:03 pm 28 Jun 17

The good people of Dalton appealing to Canberrans to stop the gas peaking power plant should really look somewhere else.
Canberrans don’t give a rats about the ‘prettiness’ of a area as long as it helps towards giving renewable energy.
Look at the way we pay for wind farms to desecrate the land in other States, and indeed in todays paper more windmills are to blight the land at Ararat in Victoria. The photo shows lovely green rolling hills with windmills all over it.

So good luck to you in Dalton, but I regret I won’t be putting any money on yous to win this.

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