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Estimates: Questioning CleanCo about fossil fuel vs renewable energy assets

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Tuesday 2 August 2022, I asked about the State Government's publicly owned renewable energy corporation, CleanCo, investing in fossil fuels while failing to invest in any renewable energy. 

You can read the CleanCo CEO's answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Mr Metcalfe, can you outline for the committee how many CSG wells CleanCo has a stake in and how that compares to the number of wind turbines CleanCo has a stake in?

Mr Metcalfe: I thank the honourable member for the question. I would like to confirm with my CEOs here with me today. I believe we have 45 right now, but we are drilling additional gas wells as we speak. We are expanding that.

Mr BERKMAN: And how does that compare to the number of wind turbines in which CleanCo has a stake?

Mr Metcalfe: We are under construction with the largest wind farm in the state, the MacIntyre wind farm, which we have a major PPA offtake agreement with. I would have to confirm the number of turbines we have at that site, but it is considerably more than the number of gas wells.

Mr BERKMAN: Can I confirm, though—

CHAIR: Member, you need to finish up with this question.

Mr BERKMAN: Of course. I am working at it. Those PPAs are different from ownership of the assets themselves; am I correct?

Mr Metcalfe: That is correct.

Mr BERKMAN: So in terms of actual wind turbines owned by CleanCo, how does it compare?

Mr Metcalfe: Right now we do not have any turbines that are installed and running and owned by CleanCo but we have a project underway.

Mr BERKMAN: Okay. That is kind of what I was getting at. I have one very brief follow-up, if I might. In relation to the Kogan North gas project joint venture with Arrow Energy, do you see it as a reputational risk that our publicly owned clean energy company is operating and expanding in coal seam gas fields?

CHAIR: That is asking for an opinion. Member, you cannot really ask for an opinion.

Mr BERKMAN: Point of order, Chair: as the CEO of CleanCo—

CHAIR: You are still asking for an opinion.

Mr BERKMAN: Chair, if I could just express my point of order. As the CEO of CleanCo, he clearly has, as part of his role, to consider reputational risk of the company. I am asking whether he considers there is a reputational risk for CleanCo around owning and expanding in coal seam gas fields.

CHAIR: Let me take some advice. What you can ask is if you had considered it but not what your opinion is.

Mr Metcalfe: If I may for the committee, the reason for the gas that we acquire is for the Swanbank E power station, which is a critical firming asset for the state. It actually allows and enables to leverage more renewables in the state because we have that backup capacity, quick ramping, quick response energy when the market needs it.

Mr BERKMAN: The question though is, as the Chair rephrased it: have you considered reputational risk that comes with that?

CHAIR: Member, you have an answer to the question.

Mr BERKMAN: I thought your question was great, Chair. I would like an answer to it.

CHAIR: We will now move to government questions. You have had a pretty good run.

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