Question Time: Central Power House (energy for APY lands)

Mr COWDREY (Colton) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Could the minister please update the house on how the Marshall government is delivering cleaner and greener power for residents of the APY lands? With your leave, and that of the house, sir, I will explain.

Leave granted.

Mr COWDREY: The Marshall Liberal government recently announced a $9 million project to upgrade the Central Power House in remote Umuwa.

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:41): I thank the member for Colton for that question, and he is quite right—a $9 million project for the people of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands. It is a tremendous project. We are very focused on providing cleaner, more reliable and more affordable electricity, but not just for the people in Adelaide, not just for the people in the closer country areas. Our government is focused on people throughout South Australia and, importantly, that includes the people on the APY lands. We are looking after them with regard to electricity as well.

For the last couple of years, we have spent about $3.6 million on diesel and freight—about 2.8 million litres of diesel and 7.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution a year coming from that diesel for the generators on the APY lands. We are changing that. We will continue to change it, but the first step is that 40 per cent of the electricity provided on the APY lands will be delivered through new solar and batteries on the lands—getting the mix right, accepting that for now at least there will be some diesel still to be used, using the solar that's available up there, putting batteries in place so that the electricity can be used even when the sun is not shining, employing Aboriginal people through Indigenous organisations when this work is done.

It is a $9 million project. Thirty per cent of the work will be delivered by Indigenous employment organisations on the lands. This is very, very important work. We will have a three megawatt solar farm and a one megawatt battery with the capacity to deliver 4.4 gigawatts of electricity a year. This is exactly the message that we have been delivering from opposition, and now from government. To have the transition away from fossil fuel towards renewable energy you have to get the mix right.

It's not just about saying, 'We will just approve as many wind farms or as many solar farms as people want to build.' It's actually about saying, 'Sure, renewable energy—we want it. We want more of it.' But there is only so much of that we can absorb until it can be stored, until we have dynamic demand management, until we have more interconnection and we are providing all of those things so that we can have more renewable energy generation across South Australia. The penetration of renewables can continue to grow, people can have cleaner electricity, but guess what? It's also more affordable and it's also more reliable.

Electricity prices in South Australia are declining at the retail and the wholesale level, and we have not had any forced load shedding in South Australia since those opposite were in government.