No closure progress

INDUSTRY experts agreed this week it was “entirely possible” the Latrobe Valley would not see imminent power station closures despite the Federal Government’s policy to close coal-fired generation.

While the Federal Government has reiterated its intention to seek to remove 2000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity from the system by 2020 and five eligible generators, including three in the Valley, officially remain part of the negotiation process, it is believed there has been scant progress to date.

Widespread speculation negotiations had barely progressed has been fuelled in recent weeks by the government’s refusal to confirm it would meet its Sunday deadline for an announcement on which generators it had reached agreement with.

Instead a government spokesperson referred to “complex commercial negotiations” that would “take time”.

This week a Hazelwood spokesperson told The Express there had been “no movement” on negotiations, despite Hazelwood being widely tipped as the most likely generator to close.

Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley called on the Federal Government to provide imminent certainty on the ‘contracts for closure’ program .

He concurred with the view that contracted closures were not inevitable, despite the government’s stated policy position, and that energy security concerns would play a key role in any decision.

Energy Supply Association of Australia policy and strategy general manager Kieran Donoghue said it was “entirely possible” the contracts for closure process would not happen.

” I know the government likes to be able to announce its policies are successful and there are some generators in South Australia which are smaller and older (than the Valley’s) and I think it is possible if the government came to agreement with one of them that would be enough… and they could say ‘we won’t chase one of the big Latrobe Valley generators for now if we can’t agree on the financial terms’,” he said.