Why o' why is Hazelwood still operating?
This old clunker was originally scheduled to be shut down in 2005. But after the Kennett Government sold Hazelwood to International Power and the Commonwealth Bank (91.8% and 8.2% respectively) in 1996, the owners wanted the power station to be operational until 2031.
In 2004 Environment Victoria embarked on a campaign to have Hazelwood shut down by the Labor government, in line with the original schedule. Accessing every avenue possible, we took the Minister to VCAT, lobbied politicians and bureaucrats, worked with the community in the Latrobe Valley and Melbourne to pressure our politicians, held protests, gathered evidence, wrote reports and provided solutions to show how Hazelwood could be closed while transitioning Victoria to a clean energy future and maintaining a secure energy supply for the state. In association with WWF we even established that Victoria’s Hazelwood power station was the most polluting power station in the industrialised world (based on CO2 per megawatt hour sent out)!
Alas the Labor Government did not listen, extending Hazelwood’s license until 2031. In doing so they prioritised Hazelwood’s profits over the mountains of evidence regarding the impacts of climate change on Victorians, whilst ignoring the blatantly obvious - the financial cost to run this dinosaur would not be economical once a price on carbon came onto the scene.
But times have changed. Victorians are concerned about climate change, and are calling for leadership and action from government. Even the owners are now looking for a way out, telling the Federal Government in a submission that they would be willing to close early if paid to do so. It’s a far cry from their rhetoric of just five years ago, but it’s a telling sign.