The lure of more than 600 jobs - even if most will be short term - and the economic injection construction of the federal government's gas plant will offer to Kurri Kurri is simply too good of an opportunity to refuse, Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent has said.
A day after Energy Minister Angus Taylor confirmed the government will proceed with the $800 million project, Kurri Kurri's civic and business leaders offered their support for the plant, but some residents were questioning if it was needed.
"Kurri needs a boost, it is struggling," Cr Pynsent said.
"The deficit left after the Hunter Expressway was completed - it had about 700 workers staying in the area.
"When that work was completed there was a massive void in the economy and I think this is a fantastic boost."
The 660 megawatt plant, to be built and operated by Snowy Hydro 2.0, will employ about 10 people in an ongoing capacity.
Its construction will create 250 temporary jobs, plus another 350 to extend the Sydney-Newcastle gas pipeline to the site.
Cr Pynsent said any job created in the town was well needed but he predicted the plant would likely stimulate additional opportunities.
He described gas as an "interim, transition" energy source that had a role to play, adding renewables were ultimately "going to come".
"I can't ignore 600 construction jobs in the Kurri Kurri area," he said.
"It's too significant. Jobs are hard to get.
"With the development of the Hydro site, I think there will be more jobs to come."
Kurri Kurri District Business Chamber president Kerry Hallett said the plant was "a great opportunity".
"I know the experts might say that we don't need it, but ... Tomago Aluminium has to periodically close down so electricity can be rerouted. That's telling you it's needed," she said.
"Renewables are great but at the moment it's still fairly limited. Solar and wind aren't always there.
"This is just a stop-gap."
Kurri Kurri's James Ryan, a former Greens councillor and president of environment group Friends of Tumblebee, described the ongoing job prospects as "tiny".
"There will be some construction jobs that we will pay for via public money, but it's a short-term benefit," he said.
"This is a pure government subsidy ... it is not being driven by the market.
"The market won't touch this. This is our money going into old technology.
"Why don't they spend that money on an industry that is going to persist and provide jobs beyond the horizon of 2050?"
Fellow Kurri resident Johnathan Broad, 45, questioned whether the plant was needed given it will run only two per cent of the time.
"The money that it is going to cost for two per cent usage, could be better spent elsewhere," he said.
"I just feel the government is obsessed with gas and coal, and in this world we are living in now, that's not the way to go when everyone else is changing their ways.
"As a taxpayer, it is a waste of money in my eyes."
Mr Broad acknowledged there would be benefits for the town, but he expressed doubt about whether locals would be employed during the plant's construction.
He said renewable energy sources should be considered given the speed at which large-scale batteries appeared to be advancing.
"I reckon it will be a big company that will bring in their own workers, so it's not really going to help us out," he said of the plant's construction.
"It will help the local businesses who will make some money out of it, hotels and things like that, but it's short term.
"The amount of sun we get in this country, it's pretty ridiculous [to use gas].
"The battery technology is really jumping along. I think they should look into it at least."
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