Energy provider AGL appears to be ruling out selling or extending the life of the Liddell power station, despite the Federal Government declaring that is still an option.
- Malcolm Turnbull last week said he wanted AGL to keep the Liddell station operating beyond 2022
- AGL has issued a statement indicating it is still committed to closing the power plant
- It said renewables with gas back-up would be the favoured power source in the short-term
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said today’s meeting between AGL and the Government ended with a range of options, including keeping the Liddell plant open for an extra five years beyond 2022.
After the 90-minute meeting, Mr Frydenberg said AGL’s managing director had agreed to ask the company’s board to consider delaying the closure or selling the power station.
But the company’s chief executive Andy Vesey appeared to strike that down.
“I think that we are committed to finding the best solution for the market, we believe we can deliver that without having to consider the extension or sell the plant and that’s what we’re going to work on,” Mr Vesey told the ABC.
Mr Frydenberg said AGL had also proposed an alternative which was to produce the equivalent amount of electricity from another source.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last week he wanted AGL to keep the Liddell power station, the oldest coal-fired plant still running in Australia, operating for five years beyond its due closure date in 2022.
After that, Mr Vesey tweeted that “keeping old coal power plants open won’t deliver the reliable, affordable energy our customers need”.
He said AGL was “getting out of coal” and emphasised it was committed to the closure of the Liddell power station in 2022, the end of its operating life.
Despite those comments apparently opposing the Government’s plan, Mr Frydenberg said today’s meeting between Mr Vesey and the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers was constructive.
Mr Frydenberg said AGL did not ask the Federal Government to pay today for keeping the power station open longer.
“That was not the discussion today,” he said.
Earlier, AGL issued a statement indicating it was still committed to closing the power plant.
“Following today’s meeting with the Prime Minister, we have committed to deliver a plan in 90 days of the actions AGL will take to avoid a market shortfall once the Liddell coal-fired power station retires in 2022.”
Mr Vesey’s statement said renewables with gas back-up would be the favoured power source in the short-term, and beyond that it would be large-scale batteries supporting renewables.
“In this environment, we just don’t see new development of coal as economically rational, even before factoring in a carbon cost,” he said in the statement.
In a further sign AGL did not favour the Government’s plan to keep Liddell open, Mr Vesey said by giving advanced notice of the closure of its coal-fired plants, including Liddell, AGL was meeting one of the 49 recommendations in the Finkel report that had been accepted by the Government.
“The long notice period we have given reflects our commitment to managing carbon risk for shareholders and avoiding the volatility created by recent sudden withdrawal of capacity,” Mr Vesey said.
Energy spokesman for the Greens Adam Bandt said the Prime Minister’s meeting with AGL had been a “fizzer”.
“AGL’s board will discuss what they were going to discuss anyway,” he said.
“Given AGL indicated to the minister that their preference is for additional new supply and that the company is getting out of coal, we are expecting to see a plan in 90 days for more renewables and storage.”