The $200 million Mumbida wind farm under construction by a joint venture for State-owned Verve Energy has overrun a completion deadline listed in State Government releases by almost three months.
A Verve Energy spokesperson said questions over several unconfirmed delays should be answered by the joint venture.
Opposition spokesman for energy Bill Johnston said Verve was hiding behind a commercial relationship.
“Verve uses joint ventures to hide debt from the State Budget, and to avoid scrutiny of its projects,” he said.
“The fact that this project is behind schedule reflects the fact that Energy Minister Peter Collier has allowed chaos to reign in the energy portfolio.”
Mr Collier said the Mumbida joint venture arrangement ensured private investors shared the risks and benefits with the Government, without increasing the burden on the taxpayer.
He scoffed at Mr Johnston’s suggestion the joint venture allowed the Government to dodge accountability, and said that it was Labor’s record in energy that was appalling.
“Labor’s ignorance when it comes to the energy sector explained why the State ran out of gas and electricity when they were last in Government,” Mr Collier said.
“There was no accountability when the State ran out of electricity and we experienced widespread blackouts.”
The wind farm’s 22 towers were erected by November 2012, however, Mumbida joint venture general manager Phil Hyde said power supply from the wind farm was weeks away, and commissioning and operation further still.
“Pre-commissioning was completed earlier this month and the wind farm is now preparing for energisation,” Mr Hyde said.
“Commissioning will then follow in readiness for handover to operation.”
Mumbida’s electricity will eventually be purchased solely by the Water Corporation to offset energy needs of The Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, which is currently consuming about 24MW of power.
A Water Corporation spokesperson said arrangements with energy providers were commercial in confidence.
Mr Johnston said the hidden details raised questions over what price taxpayers were paying for this arrangement.
“This project was awarded its off-take agreement by Water Corp without a proper tender,” he said.
“So no Western Australian will ever know whether we are getting value for money for this decision.”
Mr Collier said the contractual agreement for supply of power from Mumbida to offset the desalination plant was October 2013.
Mr Johnston was scathing of the previously undisclosed deadline.
“It’s typical of Minister Peter Collier that when his projects miss a deadline, they just invent a new deadline,” he said.
“This is clearly just one more failure by Peter Collier among so many others.”
He said if Labor were elected to power, they would stop Verve from building new energy projects including the proposed $600 million wind farm for the Mid West.
Mr Collier said this meant Labor had promised to walk away from the people of Geraldton and the Liberal-led government would continue to invest wisely in the region.
“Labor’s answer now is to cast slurs over successful renewable energy projects the Government is supporting in the Mid West in the hope of pulling the wool over the eyes of voters,” Mr Collier said.
Mr Johnston said privately-funded green power projects were the best outcome for the future of WA’s energy system, and a Labor Government would provide an environment where the private sector would be prepared to invest.
Mr Hyde said the 55MW Mumbida project would be delivered on budget.Questions put to joint venture contractor Leighton Contractors over profitability of the Mumbida project were unanswered at time of going to press.
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