Cherokee gas power plant at Tepko could solve SA's energy woes, Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess says

Similar: A gas power plant in the United States. Photo: File.
Similar: A gas power plant in the United States. Photo: File.

Plans for a gas power plant at Tepko, in the Murraylands, are being dusted off in response to the state government's $550 million energy security plan.

The cornerstone of that plan, announced last Tuesday, is a commitment to build a government-owned, $360-million, 250-megawatt gas plant that can stabilise South Australia's electricity supply and provide back-up power if needed.

The urgency behind the plan is where Tepko comes in.

In 2010, the Rann Labor government green-lit plans for a $750 million gas-fired plant that was to be built between Mannum and Murray Bridge.

The so-called Cherokee plant was due to provide 250MW of power to the state grid by 2013 and up to 1000MW by 2021.

But falling demand for electricity, due to the rise of rooftop solar and efficient household appliances, meant the project never left the drawing board.

Now, says Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess, the time is right to build it.

"The Tepko site is ideal due to not only the electricity transmission line and sub-station, but also the existing gas pipelines – including Seagas pipeline – which would have capacity to provide gas for the gas-fired generator," he said in a letter to Mr Weatherill last Wednesday.

"The Mid Murray council would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss the proposal."

Landholders and other locals had supported the idea when they were consulted in 2010, Mr Burgess said.

The power plant is not the only part of the energy solution which could be built in the Murraylands.

In planning a solar plant at Tailem Bend, Equis Energy told The Standard it had set aside space for a battery installation with a capacity of up to 100MW.

Premier Jay Weatherill’s government is looking to build a battery bank of that size by December.

“South Australians have been let down by a broken national energy market that puts profits before people,” Mr Weatherill said last week.

“Our plan will restore security and put downward pressure on prices.”

But Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall said the plan would do no such thing, and that preventing the closure of the coal-fired power plant at Port Augusta last year would have been much less expensive.