by Geoff Egan
TWO companies have already expressed interest to Dawson MP George Christensen in building a north Queensland "clean coal-fired power plant".
Mr Christensen on Friday launched a petition calling for the government he is a part of to "kick start" a new coal power plant.
As of Friday afternoon about 60 people had signed the petition - a number that had been rising all day.
Mr Christensen said he had been in discussions with two companies about building a new power plant.
"As recently as yesterday I was discussing with a company, who I am not at liberty to name, with a lot of experience in this field. And they were quite interested in building a coal power plant in north Queensland," he said.
North Queensland's power supply has become a state issue with Queensland LNP has promised to "ensure" a high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired power plant be built in north Queensland should they win the next state election.
The Queensland Labor government has ruled out building a new coal power plant in north Queensland, instead planning a hydro-electric power station at the Burdekin Dam.
State energy minister Mark Bailey announced on Friday government-owned electricity generator Stanwell would prepare a business case for the hydro plant before July 2018.
Mr Christensen said the Federal Government should commit to provide funding for the power plant after they released a new energy policy this week.
"What we need is for the Turnbull Government to provide kick-starter funding for the construction of a high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired power plant, preferably in north Queensland," he said.
"All I can say is that the people I speak to aren't so interested in lowering emissions but in lowering power prices," he said.
"The only way we're going to bring down power bills is to get investment in baseload power, and as politicians and government policy have completely stuffed confidence in coal-fired power, it's going to be up to government and politicians to rectify that."
Labor senator Murray Watt said the new energy policy would hurt economies in regional Queensland.
"Scrapping the CET will drive up regional power prices and will kill off hundreds of renewable energy jobs in regional Queensland," Mr Watt said.
Mr Watt said more than 1000 jobs in regional Queensland relied on support from the Renewable Energy Target, which expires in 2020 and would now not be replaced with the CET.
"The Turnbull Government say they care about our regions, but they'd rather put their own political agenda above the jobs and livelihoods of regional Queenslanders."
But, despite the criticism, Labor has not ruled out supporting the energy plan. - NewsRegional