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Restarting coal power station like "whaling": Koutsantonis

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South Australian energy minister Tom Koutsantonis has ridiculed a call from the federal government and state Liberals to reopen a coal-fired power station to improve SA’s energy security.

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Koutsantonis said restarting the Northern Power Station in Port Augusta, closed by its private owners earlier this year, would be akin to resurrecting the whaling industry to light street lamps.

“The Liberals want to return to a previous century rather than prepare our state and our economy for the future,” he said in a statement today.

He asserted that even if a private operator was willing to re-start the plant, it would take more than a year of  mining and recommissioning work before it would be ready to generate electricity.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan and state Liberal energy spokemsan Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the Weatherill government should consider reopening the plant to prevent more blackouts in the state.

“To not even entertain discussions is grossly irresponsible,” Canavan told ABC radio.

Van Holst Pellekaan argues it’s worth exploring whether the plant could be restarted temporarily to safeguard South Australia’s energy stability until more reliable clean energy options were developed.

However, a lobby group pushing for one of those options, Repower Port Augusta, rejected the call.

Rather, the organisation wants investment in a solar thermal plant.

“The age of burning coal is over in Port Augusta and South Australia,” said Repower campaigner Dan Spencer.

“Let’s not waste time looking at reopening the coal station which is never going to happen and focus on securing a long-term solution by building solar thermal in Port Augusta.

“Solar thermal provides on-demand clean power delivering the network benefits of fossil fuels without the air and climate pollution that Port Augusta residents lived with for decades.

“The power station is being stripped of key parts and being prepared for demolition. Coal is over in Port Augusta and it isn’t coming back.”

South Australia’s energy security has been the subject of fierce debate following last month’s statewide blackout.

– with AAP

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