Don't count out coal: our region in focus
SOARING energy costs and persistent drought conditions are quickly becoming a way of life for households across Queensland, but is an immediate switch to renewable energy the answer?
Apparently not, according to Shadow Minister for Energy, Water Supply and Biofuels Michael Hart, who visited Gympie as a guest of local MP Tony Perrett.
Mr Hart claimed the pressure on wallets across the Gympie region could be pinned on the Palaszczuk government's energy policy.
"They're gouging families, wholesale businesses and manufacturers with wholesale electricity prices,” he said.
He also levelled criticisms at current renewable energy targets, believing the rush to adopt new sources of energy could also inflate costs.
Mr Hart cited electricity prices in South Australia and Victoria, which have been more proactive in introducing renewable infrastructure.
"They have some of the most expensive electricity costs in Australia,” he said.
"What happens if there's no sun and no wind?
"There needs to be a baseline level of power to ensure the lights don't go out.”
By attempting to maintain coal powered and renewable developments at the same time, he argued, power prices would naturally increase.
Both Mr Hart and Mr Perrett were quick to say they weren't opposing these developments in the future, especially considering the planned billion-dollar solar farm at Lower Wonga.
Proper and responsible planning, they added, was the key.
It's also the key consideration with plans to raise the level of Borumba Dam, one of the key steps to solidify Gympie's water supply.
Mr Perrett, having already expressed concerns about the lack of rain in the region, reiterated his support for the plan.
"Beyond the water network, we've always been a big support of dams, especially when things are dry like they have been recently,” he said.
"But there are reports and data to be considered as well, you only have to look at what happened with the Traveston Dam to know how it can all go wrong.”