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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Nothing ‘green’ about co-gen plants

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The idea of Green Power from co-generation is an absolute nonsense, and anyone who subscribes to it on their electricity bill should have their money refunded. It is a total con.

Diesel emission No 1:

I have watched trucks loaded with logs travelling the Pacific Highway from NSW state forests west of Grafton to the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative’s Broadwater mill where the trucks are put over the weighbridge then despatched to the Ponderosa to unload. The Ponderosa is a vast area to the east of the sugar mill and is where anything and everything is stockpiled by the mill.

Diesel emission No 2:

I have watched FEDC’s big excavator with a grab on the dipper arm and a chainsaw below cutting down 40-year-old hoop pine trees on the Alstonville plateau. These beautiful trees suffered the same fate and were despatched to be chipped for co-generation. I have complained to the local council and have been told the trees can be legally cut down as they are classified as windbreak trees. The hoop pine trees had a butt of 32 inches diameter and could have been used for construction timber. After all, hoop pine was the traditional material used for wall linings in houses 100 years ago. When these beautiful trees were still standing, they really enhanced the heritage value and aesthetics of the plateau area.

Diesel emission No 3:

I have watched camphor laurel trees near Meerschaum Vale being felled by FEDC’s machinery with the stumps left in the ground. The co-generation plant can’t run camphor laurel chips through the plant on their own as they burn too hot with flash heat and buckle the boiler plates.

Diesel emission No 4:

The mix of logs is stacked into piles by diesel-guzzling machinery and then the big diesel-powered chipper arrives at a cost of $1,000 an hour and the logs are turned into woodchips.

Diesel emission No 5:

The woodchips are stockpiled at the Ponderosa under big tarps and, when the co-generation plant is running, a large excavator or front-end loader (again diesel guzzling) heaps them into a big pit where they then go by the overhead conveyor system to the co-generation plant.

Fact No 1:

And all the while, the trees are paid for with Renewable Energy certificates from the government.

Fact No 2

When you see how diesel emission intensive this whole operation is, can you really call it GREEN POWER?

Fact No 3:

I have flown over the Ponderosa and have photographed the entire operation from the air. Believe me, it is not GREEN POWER, it is A CON!

Margaret Howes, Empire Vale


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