THE head of Alinta Energy, which owns Loy Yang B power station, has warned that people face higher energy bills due to the struggle to replace coal and the high cost of green renewables and transmission.

Alinta’s chief executive, Jeff Dimery, said energy stakeholders must be honest with the public about the cost of the transition, The Australian newspaper reported last week.

“Whether we pay through our taxes or pay the upfront costs of an electric vehicle, or batteries and solar … or we’re paying more for electricity from the grid – we’ll all pay more in the aggregate,” Mr Dimery said in Canberra.

Mr Dimery said some relief from wholesale electricity prices would come over the next year or two, “but I think that will be short-lived”.

“There were big inhibitors to new renewable energy being built, and even if they were overcome, the electricity produced would far exceed current prices,” he said.

The capacity of industry to invest substantial amounts in renewable energy had been severely diminished by low margins and the rising cost of building new green energy.

“I spoke at a conference two years ago and said that it would cost $8 billion to hypothetically replace our brown coal-fired power station, Loy Yang B, with pumped hydro and offshore wind,” Mr Dimery said.

“Well, that’s more likely $10bn today with movements in various cost components.”

Mr Dimery said without coal power replacements, the country risked higher prices or blackouts. He expected Victoria, with the most ambitious transition plans, would have to rely on fossil fuels for longer than the state government’s scheduled 2032 timetable.

The Australian also reported that Mr Dimery was cautious on the Coalition’s plans to develop nuclear energy on retiring coal power sites.

“This means maintaining clear public policy, and not getting distracted with new ideas without a firm social mandate,” he said. The Latrobe Valley may be one region the Coalition will target for nuclear power.

His comments came as an opinion poll published in the Australian Financial Review found that just over half of Australians back Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s plans for nuclear energy, but support drops when individuals are asked about a plant in their region.

New RedBridge polling found of the 2590 voters surveyed, 52 per cent supported or strongly supported nuclear, compared with 22 per cent opposed or strongly opposed. A further 26 per cent were unsure.

A total of 44 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that nuclear wold be cheaper for consumers than renewables, while 17 per cent disagreed, or strongly disagreed, while 39 per cent did not know.

When asked whether nuclear should be built in specific regional areas, support fell to 41 per cent in Victoria, 42 per cent in NSW and 39 per cent in WA.

The AFR also reported that the visiting European Union’s Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, in a speech to the National Press Club, highlighted the benefits of small nuclear reactors. She said in parts of Europe where the fission technology and renewables set market prices, consumers and businesses “enjoy more affordable” energy bills than “the ones where gas and coal are needed”.

Ms Simson said Europe had a “growing sense that we need to be pragmatic and fully leverage the potential” of all low carbon technologies, including small reactors.

“They can help bring the price of electricity down,” she said.

“They can produce heat for industrial processes and urban districts. they can also provide stable power for producing low-carbon hydrogen and for powering clean district heating and cooling solutions. They can generate power for balancing the grid.”