Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan unveiled a landmark $85 million investment to supply natural gas to regional communities.
Ryan joined Federal Coalition Shadow Minister for Finance Andrew Robb in Heathcote to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would partner with the Federal Coalition to deliver natural gas to Murray River communities and priority towns across regional Victoria.
“Natural gas provides much cheaper energy for homes, businesses and local industries, which relieves the pressure on family budgets and helps industry to expand and create more local jobs,” Ryan said.
“Reticulated natural gas costs about one third the cost of bottled gas, so it is easy to understand why residents and businesses are so keen to be connected to reticulated gas.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has released an $85 million Request for Tender for innovative compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) delivery solutions to connect natural gas to communities abandoned by Victorian Labor, who clearly stated in 2010 that they did not intend to provide natural gas supply to any more country towns.
“The tender is designed to maximise the number of regional Victorian communities which receive natural gas for the available funding, and bids will be assessed on this basis.”
Mr Ryan said the $85 million tender included two components:
- $30 million for provision of natural gas to Murray River communities, comprising $15 million from the Commonwealth’s $100 million Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program and $15 million from Victoria’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund; and
- $55 million from Victoria’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to supply the remaining priority towns as part of the third stage of the Energy for the Regions program.
Under the $100 million Energy for the Regions program the Coalition Government has already announced the augmentation of Mildura’s gas supply and has also announced gas connections for Huntly, Avoca, Bannockburn, Winchelsea and Wandong-Heathcote junction.
Remaining priority towns to which announcements are yet to be made are Koo Wee Rup, Heathcote, Maldon, Marong, Orbost, Lakes Entrance, Terang, Warburton and Invermay.
Ryan said the announcement followed the Victorian Coalition Government’s strategy for the rollout of the $100 million Energy for the Regions Program released in May 2012 and the release of a feasibility study last December into the provision of natural gas to Victoria’s Murray River region.
“For some time, communities along the Murray River have sought reticulated natural gas and today we are one step closer to making this happen,” Mr Ryan said.
“Regional and rural towns not yet connected to natural gas have been caught – not big enough to warrant gas suppliers building infrastructure to supply the town, but having their growth hampered by the fact they did not have reticulated natural gas.
“The Victorian Coalition Government first announced a $1 million feasibility study into delivering natural gas to Murray River communities in November 2010.
“Following the release of stage one of this study, the Victorian Coalition Government has been working with local stakeholders, including the Murray River Group of Councils and energy providers to investigate alternative energy options to deliver natural gas to the Murray River region.”
Mr Ryan said CNG and LNG provided the same level of capacity, affordability and convenience for households, small business and industry as connecting to conventional piped gas from the grid.
“Alternative delivery solutions such as CNG and LNG are proven technology and have a particular relevance for smaller and more remote communities,” Mr Ryan said.
“While natural gas has historically been transmitted by pipelines, the high cost of laying pipe has seen an increase in ‘virtual pipeline’ solutions for the transmission of natural gas.
“These solutions typically involve gas being transported to a storage location on the outskirts of a town, then entering the reticulation network for supply to homes and businesses.”
“Innovative CNG and LNG natural gas reticulation options planned for Victoria would become a template for unlocking the potential of regional communities right across regional and rural Australia,” Mr Ryan said.
“Victoria is leading the nation in breaking down the barriers for country communities to receive the benefits of accessing secure reticulated natural gas. I welcome the Federal Coalition’s support and I look forward to this initiative being delivered.”
LNG World News Staff, September 2, 2013