The Victorian government urgently needs a plan for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power stations, following the surprise announcement that Alinta will close its Port Augusta generators, Environment Victoria said today.
The 544 megawatt (MW) Northern Power Station and the 240 MW Playford Power Station will now close by 2018. The announcement comes just days after an explosion at the Northern Power Station injured three workers.
Environment Victoria Safe Climate Campaign Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said today:
“With Alcoa also recently announcing the unexpected closure of its Anglesea Power Station, it is clear that the Victorian government needs to fast-track preparations for how and when other coal generators will shut down.
“The profits of coal power stations are being squeezed by increased energy efficiency, more clean renewable energy sources and their own increased maintenance costs for their aging assets.
“If things continue as they are, we’ll still see more unexpected power station closures, either because companies walk away from unprofitable plants, or due to major malfunction or safety incidents as maintenance becomes too expensive.
“From a climate perspective, we welcome the closure of these highly polluting power stations, but governments need to act to minimise disruption for local communities and to minimise the risk of incidents such as the Port Augusta explosion.
“The Victorian government should develop plans for the orderly closure of power stations to ensure that adequate replacement jobs are in place to meet the closure timelines. The Latrobe Valley community is particularly vulnerable to unexpected closures and a clear plan will help Victorian coal workers avoid the same sudden fate as those in Port Augusta.
“Transition plans should provide certainty around when power stations will close, ensure full rehabilitation of the sites takes place, and provide a long-term strategy to diversify regional economies to non-polluting activities.
“Without government intervention, unplanned closures could lead to an increase in emissions if more polluting power stations remain operational and increase output.
“A planned phase-out of coal-fired power stations will also help create investment certainty for renewable energy, creating jobs across the state.”
Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator indicates that the Port Augusta power stations slated for closure have lower operating costs than Victoria’s brown coal generators.
Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Safe Climate Campaign Manager, 0402 512 121