Valley power stations ‘not for sale’

The operator of Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations has denied reports it is looking to sell or close its Latrobe Valley-based assets.

National media this week reported French energy giant and Hazelwood and Loy Yang B operator ENGIE was seeking to “divest the Loy Yang B brown coal-fired power station, as well as the Kwinana gas generator in Western Australia”.

But when questioned by The Express an ENGIE spokesperson said “there has been no decision to sell any assets in ENGIE’s Australian energy portfolio”.

The spokesperson said this included Hazelwood Power Station, where no “such decision” of closure had been made.

“Any decision about the future of the assets is a decision for ENGIE’s shareholders,” the spokesperson said.

It is not the first time reports have circulated surrounding the possible sale or closure of ENGIE’s Latrobe Valley assets.

In May the company denied suggestions it was considering the sale or closure of Hazelwood.

It followed reports ENGIE chief executive Isabelle Kochertold told the French Senate the company was looking at the possible sale or closure “if the state of Victoria tells us that it cannot meet power generating needs with this plant”.

“Some have interpreted her comments as ENGIE saying it has decided to close Hazelwood. That is not the case,” a spokesperson said at the time.

The Victorian Greens spokesperson for energy Ellen Sandell said this week’s speculation ENGIE was looking to sell Loy Yang B signified a move towards closing Hazelwood.

“The interesting thing is it’s clear they want to sell some assets like Loy Yang B, and Hazelwood’s not part of it as no one wants to buy the state’s dirtiest power station,” Ms Sandell said.

“The CEO of ENGIE France has made it very clear they want to get out of all their brown coal and fossil fuel assets but there is a denial with the State Government and local branch of ENGIE,” Ms Sandell said.

Environment Victoria campaign manager Nicholas Aberle said information suggested ENGIE was “definitely” considering selling Hazelwood.

He said a loan for Hazelwood had not been refinanced while two other loans – for the Pelican Point gas plant and Canunda Wind Farm – had.

“ANZ has financed loans for a gas plant and wind farm but not for a cold-fired power station. It becomes a bit speculative but points to the fact Hazelwood’s days are certainly numbered,” Dr Aberle said.

The ENGIE spokesperson said the company did not comment on confidential business arrangements, “however, as disclosed in ENGIE’s half-yearly financial report, a Hazelwood loan was refinanced internally”.

“It is not the first time we have refinanced a loan internally and there will be no impact on the Hazelwood business,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said if there was “any proposed change to our Australian business, we will of course consult with our staff and the community”.

A spokesperson for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said ENGIE had not told the government of plans to sell Loy Yang B or Hazelwood.