Doubters rallying against Snowy 2.0

February 18, 2019

The federal government is expected to soon decide whether to proceed with the multi-billion-dollar Snowy 2.0 hydro scheme, as more Coalition backbenchers express doubt about the economic and political wisdom of proceeding with the project championed by Malcolm Turnbull.

In April last year, Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi said,  "The $4 billion Snowy 2.0 project is another boondoggle that will waste taxpayers’ money. They would do better to stop all government subsidies for energy generation, slash red and green tape and provide contractual and operational certainty for new entrants wanting to build a power station – be it gas, coal, nuclear or renewable".

The Australian reports, there has been speculation the government would be tempted to allow the issue to lapse until after the election to avoid a potential flashpoint within caucus ­between supporters of renewable energy and those who favour a new coal-fired power station.

The government has dodged questions about when it will make a decision on Snowy 2.0, but sources told The Australian it will be decided by cabinet within weeks.

The NSW government last week granted planning approval for exploratory works on the project, which during off-peak ­periods would use electricity mostly from wind and solar plants to pump water from one reservoir in the Snowy Mountains to a higher one through a massive tunnel and reversible turbine system. It would generate electricity during periods of high demand by running the water downhill through the same turbines.

Ten months after Senator Bernardi's condemnation of the scheme, Coalition backbenchers Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly are among others becoming increasingly emboldened in expressing doubts about Snowy 2.0, particularly since Snowy Hydro has said the building of any new coal-fired power station would undermine its business model.

Senator Bernardi has told Chris Kenny on Sydney radio station 2GB that politicians rely too much on emotion and not on the facts when it comes to energy policy.

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