Powering Sydney’s desalination plant with wind power has already been factored into a water bill increase for Sydney households, the NSW government says.
The government called for proposals to supply the wind power for the $1.7 billion plant.
It is anticipated that 75 wind turbines will be needed to power the plant when it is operating at maximum output of 250 million litres of fresh water each day.
It comes after Water Utilities Minister Nathan Rees said in July that the plant would be 100 per cent wind powered.
Premier Morris Iemma said the government acknowledged wind power was more expensive than that derived from coal or gas.
But, he said, its cost had been included by Sydney Water in its Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) application to increase water bills to pay for the plant.
“The price for the desal is in the submission that Sydney Water has made to IPART,” Mr Iemma told reporters in Sydney.
“It’s around $100 to $110 (per household per annum) and that covers the cost of the plant and operational costs, and the electricity is part of the operational costs.”
If Sydney Water’s submission to IPART is accepted, a Sydney household will pay $275 extra for its water for each of the four financial years from 2008-09, with $110 of this for desalination alone.
Opposition water utilities spokesman Chris Hartcher said Mr Rees had failed to guarantee that the desal plant’s electricity costs would not rise above the current estimate of $26 million a year.
“Wind power is far more expensive than other renewable energy or even coal and the NSW taxpayers have a right to be suspicious of the minister’s claims,” Mr Hartcher said.
“How much extra will Sydney residents, who are already facing higher water bills, going to have to pay to power the desal plant?”.
Mr Hartcher said even if it were wind powered, the desalination plant would remain an environmental disaster, pouring countless litres of highly concentrated salt water into the ocean.
Greens MP John Kaye said the wind plan would do nothing to reduce the output from NSW’s current coal-fired power stations.
15 October 2007
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