Dollars not discussed

CLAIMS the Federal Government never discussed costs with TRUenergy during recent ‘contract for closure’ negotiations have been seized on by Environment Victoria.

Last week TRUenergy managing director Richard McIndoe told ABC Gippsland dollar figures were not exchanged between the company, who had expressed interest in a proposed compensated closure, and the Federal Government.

Environment Victoria campaign director Mark Wakeham said the revelation proved the Federal Government, which recently abandoned plans to seek early closures of coal-fired power plants, had not been “seriously trying to get an outcome”.

While Mr McIndoe said he believed the government had initially been serious about negotiations, he said a drop in energy demand – and demand forecasts – meant the government believed a large part of its carbon reduction target could be met by lowering consumption, according to ABC Gippsland.

Mr Wakeham said Federal Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson “claimed negotiations hadn’t provided value for money, but it’s impossible to assess value for money if you don’t even discuss money with one of the two large power stations tendering for closure”.

“You can’t buy a house without making an offer so how did the government think it was going to secure power station closure without putting a dollar figure on the table in the negotiations?” he asked.

“Even if the government did discuss the finances with owners of other power stations like Hazelwood, it would have been impossible to make a comparison or drive a negotiation if you weren’t properly engaged with all parties.

“It’s becoming clear that the government didn’t have any intention of making these negotiations work or delivering on this key part of their commitments,” Mr Wakeham.

Environment Victoria has called for the Federal Government to withdraw $5.5 billion in compensation payments to power generators, allocated for the purchase of carbon permits.

“If the government isn’t prepared to pay these power stations to close, they certainly shouldn’t be paying the same power stations $5.5 billion to keep polluting,” he said.