Calls are made for FOI into power station closure date

Michelle Slater

A LATROBE Valley community group is calling on the state government to come clean over a “secret deal” struck with EnergyAustralia to keep the Yallourn Power Station operating until 2028.

Environmental Justice Australia is lodging a Freedom of Information request on behalf of local group Friends of Latrobe Water.

The FOI request is to the Environment Minister Lily D’Amborio and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning seeking details into the agreement.

The group is criticising the state government for refusing to disclose the details over the state government’s agreement to subsidise the power station until 2028, citing commercial-in-confidence.

It is also looking for further details around an agreement with EnergyAustralia to repair damage to the Morwell River Diversion near the mine.

It comes after the June storms resulted in significant flooding in the Morwell River and caused cracks in the MRD that threatened to inundate the mine.

Construction and repairs are estimated to take up to 18 months to complete.

The Australian Energy Market Operator did not forecast any supply shortfalls in the next five years but acknowledged the importance of protecting the mine to ensure network system security.

FLoW spokeswoman Hayley Sestokas said the community has been “kept in the dark” over how public funds have been used in this agreement. Our government cannot hide information which affects our community behind a shield of commercial-inconfidence,” Ms Sestokas said.

“We are asking Ms D’Ambrosio for transparency about important government agreements which will have an enormous bearing on the Latrobe Valley community in the years ahead.

“Ms D’Ambrosio has claimed that this deal is one other governments can learn from and yet we still know very little about what it involves.”

A Victorian government spokesperson said the agreement with Energy Australia was about
providing “confidence to the local community, workers and the energy market”.

“This agreement will ensure we have Yallourn Power Station available until 2028 and provides a safety net to avoid an unplanned exit of Yallourn,” the spokesperson said.

“It sends a clear message to investors to build replacement capacity, while ensuring we have the supply we need for Victorians”.