Two local anti-CSG groups have described coal-seam gas miner Metgasco’s position over its recently granted CSG production licence as ‘duplicitous’ after revelations in north coast media at the weekend that it may not go ahead with its approved 30MW Richmond Valley Power Station (RVPS).
The group says comments by company CEO Peter Henderson that it may drastically scale down or even abandon the construction of the power station ‘shows its commitment to the local community as a load of hot air’.
When the government issued the company’s first production licence for the Casino area last month, the minster indicated the gas was needed to fuel the power station, which had already been approved by the previous Labor government under the contentious Section 3A planning provisions.
But Mr Henderson said the company would consider scaling down the plant to a 2–3MW ‘peak load’ power station if that proved more profitable, or even abandoning the project altogether.
‘As the NSW government has issued a production lease to Metgasco based on the RVPS Major Project approval, it is duplicitous for the company to now say they are unlikely to go ahead with the original plan,’ said Ian Gaillard of Lock the Gate Northern Rivers.
‘If there was any lingering perception that Metgasco was pursuing its gas development for local energy production, these are clearly negated with its latest project downgrade.
‘What Metgasco really wants is to export the gas as quickly as it can before a glut on the world market makes gas production unprofitable and leaves stranded assets and jobs. When this happens, it’s the community that’s left with the clean-up bill,’ he said.
‘The decreased electricity demand recognised in Metgasco’s statement suggests that the northern rivers region’s high uptake of solar panels has displaced the need for more dirty fossil-fuel power plants,’ said Jill Lyons, spokesperson for Richmond Valley Group Against Gas.
‘The 2–3MW peak electricity supply Metgasco is now investigating would more capably be provided by solar PV which would not require the high-impact infrastructure of pipes, roads and wells necessary in a gasfield development.
‘Most importantly, it would not have the negative impacts on water, farmland and climate that a gasfield development will.’
Ms Lyons also raised doubts about the ability of Metgasco to go ahead with its planned gasfield and powerplant projects. This follows the company’s recent announcement that it plans to go to the markets to raise further equity.
‘When it is clear that Metgasco can barely fund its existing operations without more investment, how can it even contemplate building a $50 million power station?’ she said.