The unexpected closure of Port Augusta generators has again highlighted the “vulnerability” of the Latrobe Valley power industry workforce.
On Thursday owner Alinta said it would close its 544 megawatt Northern Power Station and the 240 Playford Power Station by 2018.
This follows an explosion at the Northern Power Station which injured three workers recently. It comes after last month’s announcement Anglesea Power Station and coal mine will close in August this year.
“It certainly is a warning sign for power station industry workers in the Latrobe Valley and the Latrobe Valley economy as a whole,” Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union mining and energy division state vice-president Graeme Middlemiss said. The announcement has also cast doubt on projected closure dates.
An April article in Renew Economy detailed Alinta confirming to Port Augusta Council it would shut the two facilities in 2030.
Mr Middlemiss said it was a danger that any of the older power plants across Australia would close because of a contraction in the power supply market.
“For the last two years the owner (Alinta) has indicated there are at least 20 years’ life and suddenly yesterday workers there found out from the media they were closing in 2018, if not sooner,” Mr Middlemiss said.
Environment Victoria safe climate campaign manager Nicholas Aberle said if things continued, more unexpected power station closures would occur, either because companies would walk away from unprofitable plants or due to major malfunction or safety incidents as maintenance became too expensive.
“The Latrobe Valley community is particularly vulnerable to unexpected closures and a clear plan will help Victorian coal workers avoid the same sudden fate as those in Port Augusta. The State Government should develop plans for the orderly closure of power stations to ensure that adequate replacement jobs are in place to meet the closure timelines,” Dr Aberle said.
A State Government spokesperson said the Andrews government would change its energy mix through a deliberate and jobs-focussed agenda.
“If we were to make any decision or announcements regarding the future of any Victorian electricity generators, we would have a genuine conversation with the power station’s local community first,” the spokesperson said.