Cogeneration plants face trouble

COGENERATION plants owned and operated by the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative at Condong and Broadwater may be forced to go into receivership today if the Government does not step in.

The plants, which use sugarcane trash to generate energy, lost $6 million dollars in expected revenue when the value of Renewable Energy Certificates crashed last year.

The co-op was relying on the sale of certificates to ease the debt amassed from building the plants, which significantly reduce the environmental impact of the milling process.

Last year, the value of the certificates fell from about $50 each to less than $24 when the market became flooded with them after the Federal Government decided to subsidise domestic solar energy programs.

To meet operating costs, the co-op was forced to sell its certificates during the crushing season when they were valued at between $28 and $30.

The Government has since acted to restructure the ailing program, but it will not come into effect until January 2011.

“We can’t really wait that long,” co-op chief executive Chris Connors said.

“The Government has made a mistake, let’s fix it now, not later.”

Mr Connors said the co-op was under pressure from the banks, but could be saved if the Government brought the planned legislation forward.

The co-op, in partnership with the NSW State Government’s Delta Electricity, opened the plants in 2009.

The co-op had also faced issues with a shortage of sugar cane trash to fuel the plants.



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