Environment Victoria today criticised HRL’s attempts to re-brand its stalled coal project as a new gas-fired power station, and warned investors and the public not to be fooled by the company’s desperate attempts to green-wash the project.
HRL has been attempting to build a coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley since the project was announced by then Minister for Energy and Resources Candy Broad in 2002,( ) and had promised the power station would be operating in 2008.
In 2006, in its bids to attract State and Federal Government funding, HRL promised that the power station would be operating this year. But according to yesterday’s HRL media release, it seems 2013 is now the earliest possible starting date.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said the HRL project was shifting like a mirage in the desert.
“The closer we get to the proposed construction date the of HRL power plant, the further away the project appears. Unfortunately successive Victorian Energy Ministers have been pursuing this mirage like thirsty explorers lost in the desert,” he said.
“Attempts to re-brand the power station as a gas-fired power station are a desperate attempt to fool investors and to green-wash the public.
“If the project proceeded it would be twice as polluting as a genuine gas-fired power station. HRL has also announced today that it wants to increase the size of the power station to 550 MW, increasing the project’s emissions by over 1 million tonnes per year.
Mr Wakeham said the project was extremely unlikely to proceed.
“Today we are releasing updated legal advice confirming that HRL will receive no free permits or compensation under the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme,” he said.
“Now that the proposed power station has grown to 550 MW it would need to buy pollution permits for 4 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution per year at a minimum cost of $80 million per year. A similar sized genuine gas fired power station would have to buy less than half as many permits.
“This is why the HRL project has struggled to find any financial backers apart from the State and Federal Government who are desperate to find a lifeline for the coal industry.
“We will be providing this legal advice to 100 investment funds warning them that bankrolling this coal-fired power station would be committing both financial and reputational suicide.”
Mr Wakeham said Victoria didn’t need another polluting power station.
“Minister Batchelor’s attempts to pass off the power station as a ‘clean coal’ project ignores the fact that the Victorian Government is not proposing that this power station replaces more polluting power stations like Hazelwood. Rather it would be an additional polluting power station that would increase the State’s emissions by 4 million tonnes per year,” he said.
“Combined with the Government’s enthusiasm for developing an export coal industry the HRL project demonstrates that when it comes to tackling climate change Minister Batchelor and the Brumby Government appears to be blinded by the coal.
“The State Government’s spruiking of this project contrasts sharply with its failure to provide a lifeline to Victoria’s other major proposed power station, the Solar Systems solar power station near Mildura.”
For further comment: Mark Wakeham on 0439 700 501.
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