26 March 2019
BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison has unveiled a shortlist of energy projects he's considering underwriting funding for. The PM's shortlist focuses on gas and hydro in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, including a small coal upgrade in Lake Macquarie. He says the projects have been drawn down from 66 proposals down to a dozen. These projects will deliver around 4000 megawatts. Angus Taylor is the federal Energy Minister. He's on the line. Mr Taylor, good afternoon.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Ben.
BEN FORDHAM: Thank you very much for joining us. So, a shortlist of 12 has now been developed, including a small coal upgrade in Lake Macquarie. Can you start by telling me about that?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, there's 12 projects, as you say - gas, hydro, coal. I mean, in parallel with that, we're looking at longer-term solutions in Queensland, which will include looking at a coal generator at Collinsville. So all of these are designed to do one thing above all, Ben, and that's to get prices down and to keep the lights on. We need dispatchable generation - that's generation that's on demand, that's there when you flick the switch, not just when the wind blows and the sun shines. That's what these projects are about. We'll now work all of them through and the best of them will be picked for underwriting, which will effectively ensure that we get the finance, we get the projects up, and we get the supply into the market. None of the major companies are behind any of these projects. That's been very deliberate. This would be new competitors in the marketplace to force down prices, get supply in, get prices down and keep the lights on.
BEN FORDHAM: There seems to be this never ending argument between coal and renewables. Do renewables get a look in?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, no. Well, these are- well, hydro's obviously a renewable, but these are dispatchable. They're not intermittent. So, that is the difference between generation that's there when the sun shines and the wind blows - we're getting lots of that. We're getting huge investment in that, people putting solar cells on their roofs, and that's fine. But we've got to balance that with generation that's there when you need it at night or when the wind's not blowing. That's what these projects are, all twelve and they'll ensure that the prices are kept under control, kept down, pushed down, at times when your solar cells aren't working; and that's absolutely crucial at this point in the market.
BEN FORDHAM: Minister, we don't have the clearest line so I'll leave it there. Thank you very much for your time.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks.
BEN FORDHAM: Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor.