PLANS for a $750 million gas-fired base-load power station near Muswellbrook have been scrapped after a takeover of the Queensland Gas Company by the British-based BG Group.
The station was to be powered by a $850 million gas pipeline to Newcastle from central Queensland, with investors including Hunter developers Duncan Hardie and Hilton Grugeon.
Bob Otjen, general manager of Hunter Gas Pipeline, the company behind the pipeline, yesterday insisted the pipe project would still go ahead.
"We're disappointed that has happened but the need for electricity in NSW and particularly the Hunter is not going away," he said.
"We have been talking to other potential customers all along."
The power station was announced with gusto last May by then-premier Morris Iemma and then-treasurer Michael Costa.
But the Queensland Gas Company (QGC) yesterday backed away from promises to build it, insisting it only ever said it would run a feasibility study.
Mr Iemma declared at the time the station would help secure NSW's energy supplies and justified his energy privatisation policy
A QGC spokesman was tight-lipped about the project's death, refusing to say if it was due to the takeover or the economic crisis.
"We will not go into the details but obviously the position has changed," he said.
"The feasibility study concluded last month. The power station proposal will not proceed.
"It was never certain we were going to build this."
Newcastle Trades Hall secretary Gary Kennedy said "if base load is required it's up to the Government to do it. This nonsense that the private sector can somehow do it better and cheaper is just that nonsense."
NSW Opposition energy spokesman Duncan Gay slammed QGC's refusal to explain its decision.
"We need to know what happened . . . there was no mention of feasibility studies when the Government spin doctors and the ministers were standing in the reflected glory of this announcement," Mr Gay said.