THE federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said he was “alarmed and disappointed” by AGL’s decision and was unconvinced there would be enough reliable energy in place by the time Loy Yang A was retired.
Mr Chester said he was also unconvinced that planned renewables would offer the same reliability and affordability as coal.
“Projects like offshore wind have potential but the turbines haven’t been built, approval hasn’t even been granted, and the transmission lines through private property to connect them to the grid remain contentious,” Mr Chester said.
“I’m alarmed and disappointed that this decision has been made before there is any certainty that the national grid is able to make this transition to weather-dependent renewables in an orderly way.”
Mr Chester said the AGL decision, coming on top of the planned closure of Yallourn power station, would demand a co-ordinated and strategic response from all levels of government.
He also accused the state government of having “consistently refused to participate in previous discussions involving the Latrobe City Council and other elected representatives”.
“There needs to be a high-level and bi-partisan taskforce appointed immediately with significant long-term funding allocated to help our region manage this transition,” Mr Chester said.
“Hopefully this announcement by AGL will force Premier Dan Andrews to wake up and realise the direct threat to the social and economic future of the Latrobe Valley as business decisions are made in distant boardrooms without any consideration of local community impacts.
“I accept there is an irreversible transformation underway towards more renewables, and less coal-fired power, but it must be done in a way which respects our local communities and delivers a reliable and affordable system.”
The federal Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, said the federal government was working with the states on a national energy transformation partnership, including supporting new apprentices and skills.
Mr Bowen said the government’s Climate Change Bill would provide the “certainty that investors have been crying out for in order to invest in renewable energy, transmission and storage projects”.
“We need to ensure that these closures are properly managed and that we invest in the firmed, dispatchable renewable energy, along with storage and transmission, to replace the energy generation coming offline,” Mr Bowen said.
“As the prime minister has said on numerous occasions, this is a government that will make sure no one is held back and no one is left behind, and that includes all workers through the transformation of our energy system.”