Thorny News Update


Hello!

It's been great to see the RePower Alice Springs campaign get solar back on the agenda in Alice Springs. There has been the recent deputations to the Alice Springs Town Council and local businesses by Territory Generation which has come from public pressure to engage with the community, and a lot of local media on the issue.

Unfortunately we are still at a bit of a crisis point with the 10 new gas engines currently being engineered in Europe, and expected to be here in Alice Springs by the end of May. Despite the success of the campaign so far we are still heading towards a fossil fuelled future for our town with no indication from the Northern Territory Government for any solar transition plan.

We need your support!

Come to the "RePower Alice Springs Information Night" on Friday 20th May as part of ALEC's first birthday celebrations at 90 Gap Rd. We'll be providing a community briefing on the campaign, plus there will be a BBQ and cake!

Have a quick look at the just launched HomeGrown Power Plan by Solar Citizens which provides a link where you can contact your local MP and forward on the plan. Please take a moment to do this.

Please keep the pressure up by writing letters to
the Centralian Advocate  letters@aliceadvocate.com.au 
Chief Minister Adam Giles  chief.minister@nt.gov.au  
and opposition leader Michael Gunner opposition.leader@nt.gov.au 

We'll keep you posted, however we feel it's critical that there is a plan to transition Alice Springs to solar before the gas engines are installed.

Keep well,

Nicole
ALEC Communications and Campaigns Manager





RePower Alice Springs

Media Release: 20th April 2016

Dollars and sense – answers needed on solar.
 
The deputation by Territory Generation CEO, Tim Duignan to the Alice Springs Town Council and local businesses last week has raised significant questions about the company’s decision to invest $75 million solely in gas-fired energy infrastructure.
 
It was made clear that neither the company, nor the Northern Territory Government, has a vision for expanding solar energy in Alice Springs.
 
Whilst they acknowledge the town leads Australia with 40% of our power now coming direct from the sun, which has mostly been invested by local householders, businesses and Town Council, they are saying more solar will be detrimental to the grid.” said Glenn Marshall, spokesperson for RePower Alice Springs.
 
“Rather than tackling the opportunity of world-class solar grid integration and battery storage, they are abandoning solar altogether and going with 100% gas engines. We fear they will ultimately ban new rooftop solar installations, ” said Glen Marshall. “They are blinded by gas. They need to explain why expanding solar power is not on their agenda.”
 
“This week, the Institute for Sustainable Futures released modeling showing that a transition to 100% renewable energy across Australia is both technically and economically feasible, including large-scale battery storage,” said Lou Stanley. “Alice Springs is leading the way, and our community has made it clear through our previous Alice Solar City program that we want to be at the forefront of developments, not lagging behind”.
 
The deputation raised more questions than it answered regarding the future of Alice Spring’s energy supply. RePower Alice Springs is calling on Territory Generation and the NT Government to respond to the following questions:
  • Will Territory Generation commit to transparency by releasing the economic and technical modeling that informed their gas-only decision? 
  • Did they compare the whole-of-life economics of gas versus solar energy generation over the 25 year lifespan of the engines? What factors were considered and what assumptions were made?
  • Territory Generation has stated that gas will be the future source of power until demand rises and solar becomes cost competitive. What is their modelling for future demand and how they will meet this increase using solar?
  • Are the new gas engines the best on the market at integrating with solar-generated power and battery storage? Has this been considered in the decisions to date?
  • Does Territory Generation currently restrict the amount of solar power being imported from the Uterne solar farm?
  • What measures are Territory Generation taking to ensure that the grid is increasingly capable of solar integration?
  • Given Territory Generation CEO, Tim Duignan has stated that extra solar will be detrimental to the stability of the grid, what is their stance on future installations of household solar systems? Will they ban or limit the size of systems, and what is their proposed buyback rate for solar power in coming years?
  • The closure of Ron Goodin Power Station is expected to further destabilise the grid. What corrective action is Territory Generation investing in, and does this include battery storage? If not, why not? 
  • RePower Alice Springs is concerned that this decision was driven by existing gas supply contracts. What are the details of these contracts, including who are they with, how long for, are gas prices locked in or will they escalate if/when the Tennant Creek to Mt Isa gas pipeline comes online? Will this impact the price of household power?
  • Territory Generation has stated that the company is developing a renewables roadmap by mid-year. What is their Terms of Reference and who is inputting to it? Will it include key stakeholders and proper public consultation?
  • What policy or Energy White Paper has the NT Government used to inform their gas-only decision? What is their policy and future plans for renewable/solar energy across the NT? What are their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions in line with global climate change targets?
  • Does Territory Generation or their fellow power companies have strategies to minimize power use in Alice Springs through demand management, and are they pursuing equitable access to renewable energy for lower income residents?




Cake donations/barista needed

ALEC Fundraiser at Wide Open Space Festival

Donations of cakes/biscuits required for the ALEC Coffee Stall.

We are seeking sweet and savoury baked goods - cakes, slices, biscuits, muffins…nothing too crumbly or hard to cut, and no cream thanks! Also if anyone wanted to make a gluten free or vegan contribution that would greatly be appreciated. Could you list the ingredients in what you cook so we can let people know re allergy considerations!

Drop off:  8.30am-5pm Wednesday 27th April, ALEC Office 90 Gap Road. If anyone can't make it then let me know an alternate time that suits you.

We also need one more person to make coffee - who can commit to a couple of shifts including 7-10pm on Saturday 30th May at the festival. A festival entry ticket will be provided.

Please let us know if you can help! communications@alec.org.au


Nature Laws Workshop - April 12th

A big thank you to the 35 local community members who participated in the Nature Laws workshops hosted by Places You Love and ALEC last week.

It was a great community engagement process, with many people feeling really inspired about working together to improve the environmental laws that protect our environment.

If you didn't come along but would like to take part in the conversation go to https://naturelaws.dialogue-app.com






Arid Edge Environmental Services

Arid Edge Environmental Services has recruited nine 17 to 24 year olds to join a Green Army team who are embarking on a six-month weed management and bush regeneration project along a section of the Todd River. 

The project will focus on the 5 kilometre stretch between Olive Pink Botanic Gardens and Heavitree Gap where it is planned that buffel will be removed from a number of target sites and up to 1100 trees and shrubs will be planted. 

Buffel grass is an aggressive colonising plant that grows rapidly after rain. It takes much of the nutrients out of the ground and displaces native grasses and sedges, especially on river banks, alluvial flats and moist areas. Buffel grass is significantly more flammable than native grasses, and in the case of a fire can cause damage to the river redgums along the Todd River. 

‘By removing buffel grass from around culturally and ecologically significant river redgums, it minimises the risk of these trees to be damaged by fire. The climatic conditions in past few years have seenthe fire load in the river continue to grow, so it’s important to protect these trees now,” says Arid Edge Manager, Alex McClean,

“The Green Army also aims to provide an opportunity for young members of the community to enter the workforce, receive accredited VET training and gain valuable life experience,” said Jake Eden, the Green Army project’s supervisor.

‘Unskilled youth are often overlooked for workplace opportunities, so this Green Army project is a fantastic opportunity for young members of our community to get a foot in the door,’ said Jake Eden.

The project is hosted by Alice Springs Town Council through the federal government’s Green Army Program, and will be implemented between April and October 2016 by Alice Springs based Arid Edge Environmental Services. 


Alice Springs Community Garden

Progress continues at the community garden!

We had fill dropped off in the last month thanks to the Alice Springs Town Council 

Some more big earthworks happened on wednesday 6/4/16 with the fill being spread by Trev the tipper man at the new Ironbark shelter site and raising the levels near the current shed. Please be careful if you are visiting the garden or your plots. 

Reminder:

ASCG Working Bees are every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month 8am -11am. Frances Smith Memorial Park, Bourke St. All welcome!


Central Australian Frack Free Alliance

What a great weekend! I am still buzzing after the fantastic conference and march held in Katherine on Friday & Saturday!!
 
It was overwhelmingly hopefully to see Traditional Owners, pastoralists and people from the broad spectrum of the community standing together to oppose unconventional gas exploration in their communities, and the take home message was that we’re winning!
 
Katherine Conference & March Wrap up 
 
The Our Land is Our Life Conference in Katherine on Friday saw about 60 people from across the Territory gather to from a powerful alliance with a strong commitment to fighting fracking across the NT.



The conference hosted guest speakers John Fenton from Wyoming and Helen Bender from Queensland who shared their stories about living in the gasfields.

CAFFA members and representatives from the Alice Springs Knitting Nanna’s Against Gas travelled up to attend the conference and connect with other campaigners.



Saturday morning saw us take to the streets to spread a powerful message that we won’t stand for fracking in the NT!! 

Around 300 people marched through Katherine with some great coverage by ABC news.



Viability of the Northern Gas Pipeline Under Threat... Again
 
In good news a sensible decision was made last week about using taxpayer money to prop up the pipeline.
 
After the pipeline builder Jemena announced it would reduce the size of the pipeline from 14 inches to 12 due to lack of commitment from NT producers, there was a call from the NT Chamber of Commerce for the Government to inject 60 million into the project.
 
However last week the NT government ruled out additional public spending on the pipeline.
 
While the NT Government continually claims that no public funds have been used for the pipeline, 9.2 million was committed in the 2015-16 budget to support the industry to put in proposals for the project.
 
The pipeline is partly underwritten by a 10-year gas supply deal between Incitec Pivot and PowerWater Corporation to provide it with the NT's excess gas (starting from 2018), as well as a commitment from Central Petroleum to make up the difference with supplies from it’s Mereenie, Plan Valley & Dingo conventional gas fields.
 
However even with these initial supplies of conventional gas the pipeline will still need fracked unconventional gas for it’s long-term viability. The pipeline never had a solid economic case and it is simply madness for it to be built on the basis of a non-existent gas market. There is no support for fracking in the Territory and if built the pipeline will end up a stranded asset.

Senate Select Committee Inquiry Hearing Held in Darwin
 
On Tuesday April 12 a hearing was held in Darwin for the Senate Select Enquiry into Unconventional Gas. The Inquiry, led by Senator Glenn Lazarus, is investigating the adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining  covering both including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining.
 
In the face of industry misinformation and support from Government, the Inquiry heard from community members about the poor behaviour and regulation of gas mining companies in the NT as well as the need to protect water, tourism and cultural values of the precious Northern Territory. 
 
The hearing included representatives from the NT Lock the Gate Alliance, Don’t Frack Katherine, Protect Arnhem Land, and Borroloola as well as local pastoralists and tourism operators. The committee will table its report by 30 June.

We Need You – Get Involved!!
 
CAFFA currently has a core of about 10 people who are actively involved in helping coordinate the campaign – that’s 10 people for the 300 plus people who receive these emails!!
 
In the lead-up to the election we need EVERYONE to get involved. If you have been following the campaign and support our cause please get in touch to get involved. We need every bit of help we can get. You don’t need to commit lots of time there’s small jobs to be done that you can even do at home! 
 
Please get in touch to find out more or come to our next meeting - Monday 9 May at 5:30pm at the ALEC Office – 90 Gap Rd (cnr of Kraegen St & Gap Rd – Opposite Pigglys Grocery).

frackfreecoordinator@gmail.com
Tanya Hall





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