Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A win for brown coal (lignite) power stations

Heh!  The Feds have realized that they cannot afford to close Australia's cheapest electricity generators. It must put noses out of joint that super-correct Germany is actually building more of them  -- even though lignite puts out about 8% more CO2 than black coal.  One of the Victorian generators has the world's highest emissions of CO2! Very good for plantlife

THE federal government has abandoned plans to pay some of Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power generators to shut down under its co-called contract for closure program.

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the government could not be satisfied that entering into such arrangements would achieve value for money against the program's objectives.

"The contract for closure negotiations have taken place constructively and in good faith but there remains a material gap between the level of compensation generators have sought and what the government is prepared to pay," Mr Ferguson said in a statement on Wednesday.

The program had sought to support the closure of around 2000 megawatts of highly emissions-intensive generation capacity by 2020.  But a June 30 deadline for locking in a deal has already been and gone.

Mr Ferguson said forecasts for lower energy demand in Australia "presented serious questions around the value-for-money evaluation of proposals".

He insisted last week's decision to scrap a proposed $15-per-tonne floor price for Labor's emissions trading scheme - which starts in mid-2015 - and instead link the ETS with Europe's scheme was not a factor.

The government had been negotiating possible closures with Hazelwood, Yallourn and Energy Brix power stations in Victoria as well as Playford in South Australia and Collinsville in Queensland.

The federal energy minister said the $200 million regional structural adjustment assistance program would still be available to support communities significantly affected by the government's carbon price regime.

A $23-a-tonne carbon tax was introduced on July 1 this year.

Environment groups on Wednesday said if the dirtiest coal-fired power stations didn't accept payments to close down generation they shouldn't receive any other carbon tax compensation.

"If these facilities now claim they have a profitable future and their asset values remain high, then there is no public policy justification for the compensation payments that are coming at great cost to Australian taxpayers," Environment Victoria campaign director Mark Wakeham said in a statement.

Four stations in Victoria's Latrobe Valley received the lion's share of $1 billion delivered mid-year to help coal-fired generators cope with the carbon tax.

Hazelwood received $266 million, Yallourn pocketed $257 million, Loy Yang Power got $240 million and Loy Yang B received $117 million.

The cash was the first tranche of assistance from the federal government's $5.5 billion energy security fund.

It will be followed by annual allocations of 42 million free carbon permits from 2013/14 to 2016/17 to assist highly emissions-intensive power stations.


First mangoes fetch whopping $50k

Cripes!  Times have changed.  When I felt like a mango when I was a kid, I used to climb a nearby tree and pick a ripe one straight off the tree.  It was such normal behaviour that it passed completely without comment by my parents or anyone else.  We kids had to race the flying-foxes for the ripe ones, though

THE first mangoes of the season have sold for a record-breaking $50,000 at a charity auction in Sydney.

A group of local green-grocers forked out the whopping price for a tray of the lucious Top End treats, pummeling into a pulp the previous record of $40,000 set in 2009.

It means each of the mangoes sold on Wednesday were worth $4166 each - a far cry from 2008, when the entire first tray went for just $7000 as global financial markets were pulverised.

The auction result also means a juicy pay-day for The Cancer Council Australia and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia which share the fruits of the green-grocers' generosity.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson were among those who watched wide-eyed as the bid price rocketed at Sydney Markets, Flemington.

"It's been an absolutely amazing morning," Ms Hodgkinson told AAP.

Mango growers say the bumper price in Sydney signals a decent season ahead, with 50,000 tonnes of the fruit set to be harvested in the months ahead.

The first tray of mangoes sold for $30,000 in 2011 and 2010.


Gillard condemns far-Left union

She speaks up only as the union is more or less beaten, though

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says the union blockade at a Melbourne construction site is "grossly unacceptable" as she called for calm among Grocon and union officials.

A blockade by union workers, many from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), has entered its third week after talks failed to resolve the workplace dispute with builder Grocon.

Ms Gillard says the blockade outside the Myer Emporium site, which requires an on-going heavy police presence, is illegal and must end now.

"What is happening in the streets of Melbourne is grossly unacceptable," she told ABC Radio in Melbourne on Wednesday.

"It is breaches of state law. It is illegal actions and picketing and everybody should take a step back and get this dispute resolved. "There's no excuse ever for unlawful conduct."

Ms Gillard said industrial disputes were always resolved by those willing to sit around a negotiation table.

"Everybody should take a step back from the brink," she said.

"This is a dispute, an industrial dispute, that needs to be resolved between the parties.

"They need to engage in a process that will get them there."

She said Fair Work Australia was always available to help.

Last week, Grocon and the CFMEU failed to reach an agreement after a meeting with Fair Work Australia president Iain Ross.

Grocon has now gone after the union in court while workers continue with the blockade.


Croc plan to include zero-tolerance zones

The existing catch and relocate system achieves nothing.  They just swim back to where they were,  with some epic swims on record

A FAR north Queensland mayor says crocodiles have been menacing local rowers and more must be done to manage the reptiles.
The Queensland government is developing a new crocodile management plan for the state, and is seeking input from local councils.

It says community safety is the priority and there are plans for "zero-tolerance zones".

Cassowary Coast mayor Bill Shannon says some members of the Innisfail rowing club have had some scary encounters.

"It's getting to the stage now where it's affecting the user of the waterways," he told ABC radio.

"There have been cases of crocs following those small racing sculls."

Environment Minister Andrew Powell says councils have been invited to help draft the plan, and promised it will not be a one-size-fits-all approach.

He'll meet with councils and rangers from his department in Cairns on Tuesday.

"Officers from my Department will work alongside local councils to take action. We are taking this issue very seriously and community safety concerns are our highest priority," he said in a statement.

"We will trap and remove any crocodiles which are found to be dangerous and we will work to set up a three-tiered system which includes exclusion and zero-tolerance zones.


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