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Issue #1570      24 October 2012

Campaign Corner

Re-power Port Augusta

Danny Kakoschke is a member of the Communist Party’s West Adelaide branch and an activist in the Re-power Port Augusta campaign, which has been pressing for a concentrated solar thermal power station to replace Port Augusta’s aging coal-fired Playford B electricity generator. He has worked with the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN) and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) on the issue and recently took part in an awareness-raising walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide. At the conclusion of the walk the biggest rally for some time was held on the steps of Parliament House. Danny spoke recently with Bob Briton of The Guardian about his involvement.

Danny Kakoschke and friends at the big rally after his walk.

Bob Briton: Could you tell us a bit about the Walk for Solar event?

Danny Kakoschke: The walk was from September 16 to 30 and was 328 kilometres long. Through a lot of visits to Port Augusta, initially by CLEAN but subsequently by other groups like Beyond Zero Emissions and AYCC, solid support for solar thermal has been built up. A local group has been started. AYCC activist Dan Spencer moved up to Port Augusta and helped them with the organisation and now they’re working really well. A poll was run in the community to determine whether the local people wanted solar or gas as a replacement for the coal-fired power station. The results were a little under a hundred for gas and somewhere over 4,000 for solar – damn strong support for solar!

BB: What was the support like from people along the route to Adelaide?

DK: It was great. [Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy] Tom Koutsantonis dropped by and showed support – possibly stronger than he should have been showing given the non-committal stance of the state government on the issue. People generally were glad that we were taking a keen interest and not just ignoring them to focus on city issues. They want an alternative that’s good for their health and good for the job situation.

BB: How likely is it that the replacement power generator will be solar thermal?

DK: It’s uncertain at this stage; it’s hard to predict what they’ll do. Obviously we’re going to keep applying the pressure. The state government is way more open to it in talks we’ve had with them than they were when we started to campaign for the concentrated solar thermal alternative but it will require federal support. Maybe that’s the next place we’ll walk!

In a postscript to our story, South Australia’s lower house – the House of Assembly – voted last week to set up a select committee to investigate Beyond Zero Emission’s proposal to replace the coal plant in Port Augusta with solar thermal.

“It is encouraging to see bipartisan support for a proposal that will create 1,800 jobs, support regional development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Beyond Zero Emissions spokesperson Hannah Aulby said.

“Port Augusta has the sun, the workforce, the transmission lines, and the community support to make this project a real success.”

Grass-roots activism works!  

Next article – October is CPA History Month – Election of Fred Paterson to Queensland Parliament

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