The Coalition Government has today announced details of the next phase of the rollout of its $100 million Energy for the Regions program.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the innovative strategy would explore new opportunities to get energy and infrastructure sectors focused on delivering natural gas to communities in regional and rural Victoria.
“Over the past 12 months, Regional Development Victoria and its independent technical advisers have been engaged in a rigorous process of reviewing bids received from gas suppliers as part of the first direct negotiation phase,” Mr Ryan said.
“We are very pleased to announce that through this process, the Coalition Government has successfully reached agreement for two regional gas projects in Mildura and Huntly.
“Now the government is stepping up its campaign with a broadened strategy to engage natural gas suppliers to deliver natural gas to other priority areas.”
Mr Ryan said the expanded strategy would explore both conventional and alternative options for the delivery of reticulated natural gas to communities and industry in regional Victoria.
“The uncertain economic climate impacted on the direct bidding process, which ultimately did not elicit the strong response we had anticipated for a number of communities,” Mr Ryan said.
“This new strategy will look at a wider range of options, such as proposals to decant and transport Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the outskirts of regional towns or industrial estates, reducing the significant costs involved in the construction of major pipelines and associated infrastructure.”
Mr Ryan said the expanded strategy, due to commence in the second half of 2012, would include a plan to offer gas distributors a fixed subsidy ‘bounty’ amount to supply priority towns.
“The ‘bounty’ offer will utilise information gained through the process to date along with work separately completed by RDV’s technical advisers,” Mr Ryan said.
“In addition, bids will be invited from the market for a CNG/LNG delivery system and local town reticulation networks.”
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government remained strongly committed to providing more regional Victorians with access to natural gas.
“Connecting homes and businesses to a more dependable energy source that is cheaper and better for the environment will have many benefits to regional and rural Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.
“With a positive result for the people of Huntly and Mildura now achieved, the government will focus on the delivery of natural gas to other priority communities including Avoca, Lakes Entrance, Invermay, Winchelsea, Heathcote, Orbost, Warburton, Marong, Bannockburn, Terang, Wandong-Heathcote Junction and Maldon.”
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