Plans for the phased closure of one of Australia's ''dirtiest'' brown coal power plants have been abandoned by the Baillieu government on the grounds it would be too expensive.
In a press release issued late yesterday, state Energy Minister Michael O'Brien said talks to start closing the Hazelwood coal plant begun by the former Brumby government had been discontinued.
The statement further fuelled accusations that the Coalition has no plan to meet the legislated state target of a 20 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions this decade.
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Mr O'Brien said Labor's commitment to pay International Power to close a quarter of Hazelwood's generation capacity by 2014 would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, reduced electricity supply security and increased household electricity bills. ''The Coalition does not and will not support such irresponsible and costly gestures,'' he said in a statement.
The announcement followed International Power recently posting a report in preparation for a global annual general meeting saying the state government had ceased negotiations over Hazelwood. The company report said the Coalition had ''not yet outlined alternative policies as to how it will address the reduction target''.
Opposition energy spokeswoman Lily D'Ambrosio accused the government of sneaking out the Hazelwood announcement under the shadow of the federal budget and risking green investment in the state.
She said the Coalition was clearly embarrassed by the comments made by International Power over the ending of talks. ''This state government has no plan for meeting the 20 per cent target,'' she said. Mr O'Brien has described the greenhouse target as ''aspirational''.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the decision was a further demonstration that the Coalition had no plan to reduce emissions.