Environment Victoria has described today’s news that the owners of Yallourn power station are seeking payment for closure as a desperate measure that is unlikely to succeed.
The Australian Financial Review is reporting that Energy Australia is lobbying the Coalition to pay them to close the troubled Yallourn power station via their Direct Action Plan if they win the election, as well as via a levy on Energy Australia’s competitors.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:
“This is a desperate move by Yallourn who are facing increasing problems on site at their mine and power station. Yallourn had its chance to be paid to close under the Federal Government’s Contract for Closure program. They blew that chance by seeking too much money.
“In the past 12 months, their mine has collapsed, energy demand has continued to fall and they have locked workers out of the power station. With the future of the power station looking grim they are again seeking massive taxpayer handouts to make up for their poor business decisions and site management.”
Mr Wakeham said if the Coalition was elected it was highly unlikely that their Direct Action Plan could be used to pay for the closure of polluting power stations.
“The Direct Action Plan has just $2.5 billion to spend in its first 4 years for all pollution reduction activities right across the economy, and it doesn’t have the benefit of a price signal to discourage pollution. Based on what we saw in the Contracts for Closure negotiations, there is very little chance that the Coalition would be able to afford to secure power station replacement or closure via their Direct Action Plan.
“The best way to clean up our power supply and replace ageing and failing power stations like Yallourn and Hazelwood is to keep the price on pollution in place, remove fossil fuel subsidies, increase investment in renewable energy by maintaining the national renewable energy target and getting serious about energy efficiency.”
Mr Wakeham concluded by saying that Yallourn’s proposal for an industry-wide levy to pay them to close was self-serving:
“We already have an industry wide levy to encourage the clean up of our power supply. It’s called the carbon price.
“Instead of flagging self-serving proposals to grab taxpayers’ money, Energy Australia should accept it made a poor business decision to invest in Yallourn. What they need to do now is begin a conversation with workers and the local community about a planned and phased closure of the power station to ensure that their inevitable closure minimises dislocation for the Latrobe Valley.”