Media Releases | 3rd Nov, 2016

Hazelwood closure a landmark moment for Australia’s clean energy transition

National plan now needed for rapid, orderly transition to clean energy.

Environment Victoria today welcomed Engie’s decision to close Hazelwood power station in March 2017, saying it would reduce greenhouse pollution and make room for billions of dollars of clean energy investment in Victoria and nationally, but that extra support for the Latrobe Valley is now essential.

French energy utility Engie announced today that the power station will close on March 31 2017, 45 years after it commenced operations. Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:

“This is a long overdue but welcome step. Retiring Hazelwood is essential in the race to reduce Australia’s greenhouse pollution, but now we need long-term support for the Latrobe Valley and a coherent national plan to clean up our energy supply.

“While Hazelwood’s closure is critical to reducing our greenhouse pollution and making space for new investment in clean energy, it’s been painful to watch decisions being made in Paris about when and how Hazelwood closes and the future of our electricity supply.

“Hazelwood’s closure should be a wake-up call. Australia needs to take control of its energy future by developing a plan for the orderly closure of our outdated and polluting power stations over the next decade. This includes ensuring that the companies exiting the market and the state and federal governments develop and fund transition plans for areas like the Latrobe Valley as we make the transition to a renewable energy powered economy.

“Environment Victoria has campaigned since 2005 for the retirement of Hazelwood, which was originally scheduled to close in 2000 when it was commissioned by Victoria’s State Electricity Commission.

“While we welcome Engie’s decision to retire the outdated plant, we lament the fact that we’re now playing catch-up with short-term rescue packages for the Latrobe Valley and power station workers, instead of having a long-term and considered plan for reducing emissions, retiring power stations and diversifying the area’s economy.”

Mr Wakeham said that the Latrobe Valley has a bright future, and that in the short term mine rehabilitation would continue to employ many mine workers.

“Rehabilitation of the Hazelwood mine and power station needs to happen to a very high standard to minimise future environmental risks and ensure that the land becomes a community asset. Done well, rehabilitation can deliver strong environmental and social outcomes for the region.

“We’re hopeful that in coming days the state and federal governments commit significant resources to develop new industries in the Latrobe Valley over the next decade. As a recent report Life After Coal: Pathways to a just and sustainable future for the Latrobe Valley showed, with the right support the Latrobe Valley can be a leader in new industries like energy efficiency and storage and solar hot water manufacturing, creating hundreds of new jobs.”

Mr Wakeham said that Hazelwood’s closure would make Victoria a more attractive place to build new renewable energy projects.

“The Victorian energy market has been oversupplied with dirty energy, delaying investment in new renewable energy projects. This is now likely to change, although many clean energy investors will still be waiting for a clear schedule for the retirement of coal-fired power stations and a coherent climate change policy which encourages investment beyond 2020. We urgently need state and federal governments to work together to develop this coherent national policy for the benefit of communities and the environment.”

For interview and further comment:

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