Power station site selection complied with a bad process – Auditor General

johnboy 11 December 2008 39

The ACT Auditor-General has announced the release of a report titled: “Proposal for a gas-fired power station and data centre – site selection process”

Note that even the Auditor-General is calling this beast a power station first.

Here are the key findings:

    — Government agencies complied with the existing Government processes, leading to the agreement on a site (Block 1671, District of Tuggeranong) for the proposed Canberra Technology City project. These processes, however, were not sufficiently robust to give confidence that the public interest was fully taken into account.

    — Under the current processes, the proponents have the sole responsibility to assess the best site for the proposed project and apply for a direct land sale. Government agencies did not formally assess and rank the relative merits of the proponents’ suggested sites against a clear set of criteria. A suitable site that meets the commercial needs of the proponents may not necessarily equate to the optimum site from the Territory’s point of view, when taking into account wider public interest criteria.

UPDATED: Zed has announced the Liberals will be attempting to amend the Bill greenlighting the new location. He’s also very pleased with the auditor-general.

Mr Stanhope on the other hand has declared the auditor-general to be “wrongheaded” on 666 this morning.

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39 Responses to Power station site selection complied with a bad process – Auditor General
Digga Digga 12:31 pm 12 Dec 08

CPR Inc has made its submission in response to GHD’s draft Environmental Impact Statement and a copy is available from its website:


chewy14 chewy14 11:50 am 12 Dec 08

Fair Enough Digga,

If you want to argue against the Studies’ veracity. That OK. Although there is a lot of research and science behind the models used in the studies.
As for your comment about the tip and airport generators.
They are not on your fossil fuel power station list because the map is for power stations >20MW.
It doesnt mean they arent power stations.
For someone complaining about semantics (communications facility vs power station), you should know this.

Digga Digga 6:46 am 12 Dec 08

chewy14: Not proven. CPR’s submissions have shown the source data is flawed. All study results are therefore negated. Hence yet more studies to come from relocated site.

chewy14 chewy14 5:49 pm 11 Dec 08

so, 54-11
Attacking me and not the issue of exactly what you are against, wins you the argument?
Are you against specifically:
Noise from this site? proven to be within acceptable limits even on the worst days.
NOx from this site? proven to be well within acceptable limits even on the worst days.
Traffic from this site? negligible
Any Power station in the ACT?
Any Large industry in the ACT?
Any Large Greenhouse emitting industry in the ACT?
If its the last couple thats OK, but if you want to attack this development, do it on technical grounds and not just because you dont like it?
The auditor general’s report specifically states it is not reviewing the actual merits of the proposal.

54-11 54-11 4:52 pm 11 Dec 08

My agreement was with digga and deezagood, not chewy.

54-11 54-11 4:49 pm 11 Dec 08

Agreed. On another thread, they were discussing Godwin’s Law, that when someone invokes the Nazis, they’ve automatically lost the argument.

I believe the same applies when the term Nimbies (or variation thereof) is trotted out – they have lost the argument and have resorted to name-calling to try to win. And by doing so, automatically lost it.

chewy13 did that, when his only case seems to be that the residents were uninformed (when in fact they were very aware of what was going on and made public submissions showing this).

chewy14 chewy14 4:47 pm 11 Dec 08

Of course the site selection process was flawed, the auditor general’s report spells that out. Where have i argued against this and said the Auditor was uninformed.
This however says nothing about the actual proposal, or location’s merits.
Are you saying the documentation and studies contained in the DA were wrong?
What exactly are you arguing against then?:
The Site Selection Process?
Data centres in general?
Gas Power Stations?
Any Fossil Fuel Power Source?
Any Power Station?

But putting up signs saying “dont poison my children”, which people have done, is patently false and misleading.

Digga Digga 4:14 pm 11 Dec 08

deezagood: Hear, hear!

Daft, for others to marginalise their fellow citizens standing up for the greater populace – especially when the people standing up are right with reams of documented evidence. We’re trying to clean up the politics and the environment.

Win, win, win, win (politics, business, environment, community).
Just get it sorted out, for all Canberra’s benefit. Enough of the lies, misinformation, stress.

deezagood deezagood 4:03 pm 11 Dec 08

chewy14 said :

Spot on the money Grasshopper,
They have indeed made a mess of the whole thing from the start.
54-11, No commercial interest in the proposal, just sick of people i know, who live in Macarthur whinging about this proposal without even reading the DA.

And I am most decidedly sick of ignorant people, who haven’t read the DA, accusing Macarthur residents of being Nimbys. If the Macarthur people were Nimbys, they would be celebrating the move of power station out of their ‘back yard’ right now, instead of continuing to work hard against the extremely dodgy dealings, back-handd deals and faulty processes surrounding this whole debacle.

54-11 54-11 3:50 pm 11 Dec 08

Ah, now I get it, chewy. When a residents’ group mount a persuasive campaign against an inappropriate development, and they are “uninformed”.

Those residents have a logical and well-thought through position which is publicly available (more than most of what Stanhope was up to) and convinced two of the three political parties that the proposal stank Those paryies must therefore be “uninformed”.

The independent Auditor-General lambastes the various players in her report, which vinicates what the residents said. She must therefore be

The various players have generally accepted the findings of Phu Tam – they must likewise be “uninformed”.

That must make you the only “informed” person commenting on this process.

Well done, chewy.

Digga Digga 3:43 pm 11 Dec 08

chewy14: Check your facts. Here is the Federal Government’s register of fossil-fuel based power stations that are proposed:

Follow the link for Proposed Power Stations (yes: Power Stations) and you’ll find our little beauty in the list along with others (total of 3 listed for ACT). You won’t see the tip’s generators, the airport’s generators or others.

Included in this list is the large peaking power station of around 600MW planned for Williamsdale, about 20km south of Canberra. In addition, the airport just turned on the first of 4 gas-fired tri-generation units. Co-gen/tri-gen aside; these are all polluting natural-gas burning turbines – and they’re static sources; not mobile and therefore dispersing as much as cars, aircraft etc.

Added on top of the tip’s stationary methane-burning converted diesel engine units, additional aircraft, cars, gas-fired units in industry, homes and an overall ongoing increase and you have a composite level escalating without control or co-ordination.

In case you missed it, here’s the airport’s first of four new gas-fired units:

Could you please tell me, who’s co-ordinating all of this and who is pro-actively decommissioning worse polluting sources in an offset (vs. additive) way? What do we tell our kids in 17 years when we blow 2025’s reduced emissions targets.

chewy14 chewy14 2:48 pm 11 Dec 08


So you’re against a power station?
What about the power station that is already at the tip?
Or is it only this gas station that is bad?
Because it will poison your children right?
read the plume study, the Nitrous Oxide levels will be less than that produced by cars and wood fires on the worst weather days (still conditions).
Now they are going to move it 1km north and we have to pay.
Oh Please dont ruin my view of the tip.
Just because Stanhope and his crew are useless, doesnt mean uninformed residents should get their own way.

54-11 54-11 2:38 pm 11 Dec 08

Ah, Chewy13, I was wondering where all the anti-Nimby rhetoric had gone. You’d tried to wrap it up in spin about the Auditor’s report being benign and then using Stanhope’s strategy of confusing exactly what the site is (it’s a power station).

The reality is that Phu Tam has thoroughly vindicated the residents’ position – the process was a sham, and they have saved the rest of us (I live nowhere near Tuggeranong) from a badly sited development, which was poorly conceived and recklessly supported by Stanhope et al.

Thank God for a few nimbies! Back in your box, chewy.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 2:09 pm 11 Dec 08

Cool digga!
Power to the people.
And thanks to Jonathon Reynolds for drawing our attention to that clause.

chewy14 chewy14 2:07 pm 11 Dec 08

Spot on the money Grasshopper,
They have indeed made a mess of the whole thing from the start.
54-11, No commercial interest in the proposal, just sick of people i know, who live in Macarthur whinging about this proposal without even reading the DA.

Digga Digga 2:03 pm 11 Dec 08

Gungahlin Al: Thanks for the update and I just heard that Clause 9 is being dropped already. Not sure what other amendments are being discussed/sought behind closed doors – but seems that they’ve got the message and Stanhope is having to reneg to some extent in order to get support to get this through today.

Note the timing and panic by Stanhope (Bill tabled first day of sitting on Tuesday and needing to be passed today); tomorrow is the deadline for comments to GHD about the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and in doing this before tomorrow, it removes the prospect of someone pointing out that it would be completely credible and justified and reasonable for the Minister for Planning (Barr) to reject this development application on 13 December 2008, and insist on doing things properly (given the now know track record).

Setting a bad precedent that business only “gets up” through Legislation and amendment in law, to get around problems with the Territory Plan definitions or your independent statutory planning authority (ACTPLA) makes one wonder, what business can be guaranteed this level of support and assistance in the future if they have to negotiate outside of statutory planning processes?

grasshopper grasshopper 1:38 pm 11 Dec 08


I not arguing that data centres should not be built, my suggestion is to leave it to the professionals and not some beat up tinpot council who think their major players in the field of data enterprise investment. This is our money their playing with!

I do agree that this may currently seem to be the softer option for power supply today against coal burning, but please consider this? Co-gen is not yet entirely qualified when it can manifest itself in varying guises. Yes! there is the gas / steam generating combo but there is also the gas / diesel combo aswell.

They are in the process of constructing at Woolongong a 400MW+ gas fired plant to replace the old coal fired plant at Tallawarra on the shores of Lake Illawarra. The interesting thing here is that they have now added STAGE B (stage A – gas fired)which will be predominately a diesel fired generating option, this flies in the face of all principles of conservation, when you consider the fact that they will require an on going diesel supply.

The potential here in Canberra for this to be a gross polluting mess is very probable given the lack of foresight by this Government and in particular Jon Stanhope and his cronies.

May commonsense prevail? I indeed hope so.

54-11 54-11 1:33 pm 11 Dec 08

Chewy14, do you have some commercial/employment/other significant interest in this proposal? Just wondering…

chewy14 chewy14 11:55 am 11 Dec 08


You are correct about the power usage/wastage. But if you are arguing it shouldn’t be built, then other data centre’s in Canberra (such as the proposed one in Mitchell) shouldnt be built either. Onsite Gas CoGen is far more efficient than traditional coal power. As for who’s making the money, of course the ROI to the ACT will be woeful, when do they ever get anything right?

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 11:43 am 11 Dec 08

He’s cool. People should put aside their concerns about his religious views and give him a chance.
When it comes to the business of government, I think he has plenty of potential.

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