Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley is closing next week, after half a century of operation. This will be the largest coal-burning power station to have closed in Australia, and it will have effects on the local community, climate pollution, the energy market and more.
Environment Victoria has been deeply involved in discussions about Hazelwood’s future for over a decade. To assist with any coverage you might be planning, we have put together a media background document that covers a wide range of issues related to Hazelwood’s closure.
Hazelwood closure: 6 key facts
- Hazelwood is Australia’s ‘dirtiest’ power station, meaning it produces the most carbon dioxide for the amount of electricity it generates. At 1.56 tonnes of carbon dioxide for each megawatt hour of electricity, it is 50 percent more polluting than the average black coal power station in NSW or Queensland.
- Hazelwood’s owner, French energy giant ENGIE, is transitioning away from coal worldwide, and currently trying to sell its other Latrobe Valley power station, Loy Yang B. In May 2016, CEO Isabelle Kocher said the company was reviewing its remaining coal plants one by one and would close those with the most outdated technology.
- In December 2016, it was revealed that Hazelwood was the subject of numerous WorkSafe notices, requiring extensive work to make the site safe. ENGIE estimated the cost of complying with the notices would be $400 million.
- Including Hazelwood, nine power stations have closed in Australia in the past five years, with an average of just four months’ notice from announcement to closure. While coal-burning power stations need to be phased out, unplanned closures are more disruptive for the community and workers, more problematic for the energy market and create less certainty for investors in renewable energy. Clear timelines for future retirements help overcome these problems.
- AGL, Energy Australia, the Business Council of Australia and the ACTU have all called for a managed transition away from coal. (See a full list of quotes on page five of the media backgrounder.)
- Coal-burning power stations are the largest single source of greenhouse gases in Australia, so their retirement is critical to meeting our commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
Download the full Hazelwood closure media backgrounder (PDF)
Despite the short notice between the announcement and closure of Hazelwood, there are some positive signs emerging as the transition away from coal continues.
An unprecedented worker redeployment scheme was recently negotiated with AGL’s Loy Yang A power station, hundreds of current Hazelwood workers are being kept on for mine rehabilitation, and there will be new jobs in the region due to the power station decommissioning and state government investment in new industries.
The timing of the closure is also interesting – a Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations is due to report on 29 March, the same day Hazelwood’s last unit stops generating electricity.