Councillor fumes over power station job losses

2443 ETU marchers 2 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A proposal to run the new $75m power station at Owen Springs remotely from Darwin has come under fire from Town Councillor Steve Brown.

 

Territory Generation (TG), which is 100% NT Government owned, is tight lipped about reports that there will be massive job losses in Alice Springs.

 

When we put questions to TG last week it replied: “The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and TG participated in a conference before the Fair Work Commission and agreed to have further discussions on the issue.

 

“The Fair Work Commission has requested the matter now remain private between the two parties and to this end, TG will not make any further public comment about this process.”

 

p2064-Steve-Brown-130Cr Brown (pictured), who says he understands that 30 to 60 Alice Springs people may lose their jobs if the control systems are moved north, calls TG’s claim an outrage: “There is another party to this issue and that is damn well the community of Alice Springs.

 

“This is a government owned business which has  responsibility to the community, not just some private firm moving jobs from our town to the capital,” says Cr Brown who is an electrical contractor.

 

“They are silencing the workers and trying to sneak jobs out of town without telling us. Are they trying to turn Alice Springs into a Fly-in, Fly-out camp?”

 

TG and the ETU (pictured at top during the Bangtail Muster parade) met in Darwin on Saturday. No information has been available.

 

The closure of the old Ron Goodin power station in the middle of the town is now imminent and has been planned for many years, largely because of its noise affecting the near-by up-market Golf Course Estate and the Hidden Valley town camp.

 

However, while some job losses were expected with the closure of the Ron Goodin plant, the proposal of remotely controlling the new installation at Brewer Estate is coming as a surprise for many.

 

 

PHOTO below: The noisy Ron Goodin power station in close vicinity of the Golf Course Estate.

 

p2443 Ron Goodin 1

 

 

UPDATE 7pm May 16:

 

The following statement was emailed to the Alice Springs News Online this afternoon. We had given the right of reply to Territory Generation ahead of publication of this story, as reported above.

 

Important information to Editors from Territory Generation CEO.

 

Media reports in the past 24 hours in Alice Springs include a number of incorrect statements regarding the move to the Owen Springs Power Station.

 

To ensure accuracy, Territory Generation released a media statement on 28 April 2017, and wishes to assure the community that no-one is being sacked from the Ron Goodin Power Station (RGPS).  Territory Generation has been actively working to transition to the new power station at Owen Springs, for a safer and more reliable power supply for the Alice Springs community; and where the aim is to employ as many RGPS employees as possible.

 

There have never been any plans for “FIFO” workers; and the only “control” from Darwin is the modern Remote Operations Centre “centralised” monitoring approach which ultimately includes all of our power stations across the Territory.

 

This is industry best-practice approach, having been deployed in other jurisdictions for well over 30 years.  This has also been a well-known component of our Transformation Project for some 18 months.

 

There has been no public commentary from Territory Generation since 28 April 2017 due to the fact we are currently in dispute with the Electrical Trades Union and are continuing further discussions.

 

Until now, the Fair Work Commission has requested the matter remained private between the two parties and to this end, T-Gen will not make any further public comment about this until the process is complete.

 

 

 

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11 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Power Rangers
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Industry best practice does not equal community best practice.

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  2. Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Going solar locally is good and I support it but it has its problems when our power infrastructure is not sufficiently able to carry the increasing generation from private property.
    This results in the domestic private investor or organisations not receiving the maximum benefit on their solar panels.
    Money needs to be spent on improving local infrastructure.

    View Comment
  3. Fred the Philistine
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Anything that saves money, go for it.

    View Comment
  4. CherieM
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Even more reason to go solar and go off the grid.

    View Comment
  5. James T Smerk
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I think all too often the Darwin Government people are of the belief (misguided of course) that their counterparts are inferior to them just because they live in little old Alice Springs and they are reluctant to give them any form of real powers or responsibilities.
    As a struggling small town witch is essential to the Territory why not invest more into the town?
    Tourism and government really keep this town alive and as much as people complain about the government (me too at times) they provide a vital service which not only keeps the Territory running but adds to the community as these people spend their money locally on businesses and trades.
    Cut government jobs in Alice and you are taking money out of the pocket of the local shop and tradies’ pockets, too.

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  6. Posted May 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

    It’s almost exactly 20 years ago I moved into an alternative technology demonstration house about 30km west of Alice Springs.
    There was a great deal of media coverage of the construction and official opening of this place at the time – it even won a category in a national architecture award!
    I lived at this place for eight months and during this time became aware of a litany of faults that afflicted it; however, there was one feature that I thought demonstrated outstanding potential, and that was the battery storage solar power system installed for that house.
    Its only problem was its scale as it was of insufficient capacity to service the needs of the house, which could easily be rectified if a larger number of solar panels and increased battery storage was installed.
    The cost at the time was the reason for its practical limitations.
    Aside from this, the system worked perfectly. It was never completely depleted of stored energy and not subject at all to power blackouts. It was completely reliable.
    For me it was obvious that this approach to providing household power would become a realistic option over time as technology improved, uptake increased and costs declined.
    This is now happening at an increasing rate across Australia and its clear ever more consumers are voting with their feet to opt out of the established power distribution grids.
    That may be a problem for government authorities and power companies but they have only themselves to blame for the mishandling of our energy supply problems.

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  7. Steve Brown
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    @ Jimmy: I certainly was and proudly so, this is a wonderful new facility using technology at the very forefront of responsible power production combining solar and gas to produce reliable power for our community.
    Responsible as opposed to naive lefty idealism that doesn’t give a dam about the effects of expensive unreliable power on workers, industry or those left out in the cold because they cant afford to pay for electricity.
    Or the shear bloody inconvenience, hence cost to community from unreliable power!
    One of the very reasons I’m objecting to removing jobs from our town and remote-control from Darwin is reliability!
    Remote control, apart from pinching our community’s jobs, brings with it a greater level of unreliability. Oh and Jimmy the solar power will also be controlled from Darwin. Have a read of Bob Taylor’s post. I think he nailed it.

    View Comment
  8. Peter Dixon
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Very well said, Bob Taylor. What a really great idea to put the centre back into The Centre. Cyber security is a real worry as we have seen over the weekend.

    View Comment
  9. Peter Dixon
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Well said Jimmy Cocking. How can this help Alice Springs?

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  10. Bob Taylor
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Where will centralisation of these types of jobs end?
    I was under the impression that the Federal Government had a renewed interest and were now keen on decentralisation.
    If the technogy is so good that power stations can be effectivally controlled from Darwin, therefore why can’t Alice Springs run / control / monitor all of the NT’s power stations, including Darwin’s?
    Whatever happens, cyber security will need to be at the highest level possible for this and any other key assets in light of recent attacks.

    View Comment
  11. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    @ Steve: But weren’t you part of the initial front page announcement about how wonderful this was all going to be at the start of last year?
    Good to see you standing up for the workers now! Giles and co were aware of this proposal back then.
    We need local control of our power assets and local jobs.
    Many more jobs per MW in solar than in remote controlled gas fired stations.
    That’s why we’re pushing for a sun powered future, as opposed to one dependent on fracked gas.

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