Media Releases | 24th Sep, 2016

Decision needed to retire Hazelwood power station and invest in the Latrobe Valley’s future

Reports today that ENGIE, French owner of Hazelwood power station, may decide in October to close the plant show that global markets are shifting to clean energy and Australia needs to catch up.

“Phasing out Hazelwood will put an end to Australia’s oldest and most polluting power station and will mark the beginning of Victoria’s transition to the clean energy sources of the future. This is the biggest single step Australia can take to clean up our energy supply,” said Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham.

“For the past 12 months ENGIE has been saying that they will move away from coal and that dealing with climate change is central to their corporate strategy. This inevitably means phasing out coal-burning power stations like Hazelwood and Loy Yang B, which ENGIE also owns.”

“We are now seeing global electricity retailers making major shifts in their investment decisions towards clean energy as the world begins to act on global warming.

“We also know Victorians are ready for coal closure: A Reachtel poll commissioned by Environment Victoria in June found that over three quarters of Victorians would support a government plan to phase out Hazelwood.

“It is time for the company to make a clear decision to retire the plant at their October Board meeting. With as little as six months until the plant’s closure, ENGIE needs to announce a clear plan to look after workers, fully rehabilitate the mine site and help fund a transition plan for the Latrobe Valley.

“Environment Victoria will continue to work with our colleagues in the French environment movement to ensure ENGIE announces a clear plan to retire the plant. We’ve seen past state and federal government efforts to close Hazelwood falter and that can’t happen again.

“But we’ll also be maintaining pressure to ensure ENGIE meets all of its responsibilities to workers, to the environment and to the local community as it closes the mine and power station.

“With potentially just months before the actual closure, it’s critical that the community is involved in discussion about the future of the Hazelwood site. Rehabilitation of the mine is an opportunity to create hundreds of jobs and restore the local environment.

“The Andrews government needs to ensure ENGIE delivers on its legal responsibilities to clean up the site in a way that meets community expectations, as well as accelerating an economic transition plan for the Latrobe Valley.

“Regardless of ENGIE’s upcoming decision, the clear lesson today is that governments need to proactively establish a timeline to phase out coal-burning power stations or have these decisions imposed by multinationals in Paris and Hong Kong.

“Leaving the timing of power station closure to the market risks leaving communities in the lurch. A responsible government should have a plan to phase out our oldest and dirtiest power stations and build new clean energy.”

For interview and further comment:

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO,
Office: (03) 9341 8127, Mobile: 0439 700 501