News | 2nd Dec, 2010

Power station to stay, for now

Thursday, 2 December 2010
Ebonnie Lord, Latrobe Valley Express

A plan to investigate the impact of the closure of Hazelwood power station will take place instead of Labor's pre-election proposal to compensate International Power to close two of the station's units.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the newly-elected Coalition government would implement the $5 million `Latrobe Valley Industry and Employment Roadmap', a social and economic impact study on any move to phase out Hazelwood power station.

He said this would be in addition to the $25 million Latrobe Valley Advantage fund introduced by the Brumby government.

“We can't put a date on the closure of Hazelwood before we find out the facts to make sure we don't lose local jobs,'' Mr Northe said.

“We need to have discussions with all of the power stations about how they can reduce their emissions but we need to get moving if we are going to reach the 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.''

Mr Northe said he believed the Labor Party and the Greens made pre-election promises in regards to closing Hazelwood power station before understanding the full implications of such action.

“It is a much bigger picture than just the environment, we need to fully understand the social and economic consequences for not just the Latrobe Valley but for the whole state,'' he said.

But Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the Coalition's decision not to support the closure of two of Hazelwood's units was a major setback for workers in the Latrobe Valley, not just for the environment.

“Hazelwood is going to inevitably close with the Prime Minister's announcement this week that a price on carbon will be legislated next year,'' Mr Wakeham said.

“Leaving it up to the Federal Government will mean the Latrobe Valley will miss out in terms of investment into creating new long term jobs for Latrobe Valley workers.''

International Power Australia's Latrobe Valley spokesman Neil Lawson said the company had long maintained it was prepared to negotiate a phased closure of the entire station in a `realistic' time frame.

“This is in return for an agreed compensation package that recognises the company's significant investment in the Latrobe Valley-based plant,'' Mr Lawson said.

“Any questions relating to compensation are a matter for the State Government, however we look forward to having an open and constructive relationship with the incoming State Government on these matters.''