The Gillard Government’s decision to abandon their commitment to retire 2000 MW of Australia’s most polluting power stations is a devastating blow to Australia’s clean energy future, said Environment Victoria today.
The Contracts for Closure commitment to secure closure of around 2000 MW of our dirtiest power stations was a key plank of the Gillard Government’s carbon price package that was negotiated with the Greens and Independents.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:
“The Gillard Government has just abandoned a very clear and public commitment to retire our most polluting power stations, which seriously damages the credibility of their Clean Energy Future package and Australia’s prospects for cleaning up our power supply.”
“You can’t have a clean energy future with power stations like Hazelwood continuing to operate indefinitely – it becomes hollow rhetoric.”
“We are extremely surprised that this announcement comes just a week after changes to the carbon price which would have had a significant impact on the value of the power stations and therefore the negotiations. It suggests that the Government wasn’t really committed to securing an outcome.”
Mr Wakeham said that the failure to deliver on Contracts for Closure should lead to a review of proposed compensation over the first 5 years of the carbon price.
“It’s essential that the government now withdraws the $5.5 billion in compensation that power station owners are receiving from taxpayers. If polluting power stations are saying in negotiations that they remain profitable and their assets are still valuable then there is no justification for giving them compensation for introducing a price on carbon.”
“We don’t buy the Government’s line that the amount sought by power station owners for Contracts for Closure doesn’t represent value for taxpayers when $5.5 billion is being gifted to these same companies to keep polluting with no public benefit.”
Mr Wakeham also said that the decision created more uncertainty for regions like the Latrobe Valley:
“Contracts for Closure would have enabled an orderly and predictable phase out of old power stations which communities could plan for. Without this, power stations can close at the whim of the market, exposing communities to rapid, unplanned and potentially damaging changes.”
Contact: Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria Campaigns Director 0439 700 501