NRG Gladstone Power Station.
NRG Gladstone Power Station.

POWER PLAY: NQ coal jobs talked up for Gladstone

SHINE Energy's chief executive is talking up potential jobs at Collinsville amid uncertainty on when Gladstone's power station could close.

Last month the Federal Government announced $4 million in funding for a feasibility study into the company's proposal to build an energy park in North Queensland, including a 1000MW coal-fired power station.

CEO Ashley Dodd told The Observer the doors were open for people in Gladstone to use their skill set and move to North Queensland with their families.

"What we're saying to them, there is going to be a shutdown, that's the reality of the Gladstone Power Station because it's an ageing power plant, it's one of the higher emitting power plants," Mr Dodd said.

"We're saying to you that we can actually use your skill set in Collinsville to help actually do the O and M (operation and maintenance) phase of our plans."

The invitation follows recent concerns made by the Queensland Government about whether the viability of a new coal plant was based on assumptions on when existing power stations would close.

Mr Dodd said it was disingenuous to suggest the $2-billion Collinsville project was dependant on an earlier than scheduled shutdown at the Gladstone Power Station.

"If we're going to meet our reduction in carbon emissions it is actually probably more than likely worthwhile, based on the latest technology, to shut down the subcritical power plants so we have more efficient power plants," Mr Dodd said.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said that with upgrades the life of the Gladstone Power Station could be extended beyond 2028.

"We need more power, not less. The Collinsville power house will be to provide good, cheap reliable power to north Queensland for existing industry and future projects," Mr O'Dowd said.

"With the demand for aluminium increasing and Rio Tinto dependent on the future of the NRG power plant, further upgrades can be made to NRG to extend its life beyond 2028."

If the Collinsville power house goes ahead, the first unit is expected to be commissioned around 2025/26.

Mr Dodd said the project would result in more jobs compared to renewable energy projects that typically create work during construction before declining dramatically during operation.

Mr Dodd was happy with the progress of the Collinsville plan.

"The project is absolutely going great guns. We actually went overseas and we've met with the potential equity and debt participants," he said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said there was no cause to expect the Gladstone Power Station to close any earlier than the company had already publicly reported, in 2035-36.

"The government has been clear, our commitment is to assess the feasibility of the Collinsville HELE project. We have not committed to build it," Mr Taylor said.

"The project will need to stack up and make commercial sense to get private sector investment and necessary State Government approvals."

Meanwhile Queensland senator Anthony Chisholm has been calling for Mr O'Dowd to explain what the project could mean for Gladstone and push for the release of its business case.

"As a backer of the Collinsville project, he needs to explain himself to the 250 people employed by Gladstone Power Station," Mr Chisholm said.

The Gladstone Power Station has been contacted.

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