Hazelwood power station – A brief history

June 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm 4 comments

Everything you wanted to know about Hazelwood, but was afraid to ask.

THE EARLY YEARS
Vintage photo of Hazelwood power station from the sky

47 years of pollution.

1949 – The State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) begins developing the brown coal reserves at Morewell, also known as the ‘Morwell Project’.

1959 Hazelwood Power Station is approved. It’s planned to consist of six 200 MW generating units, giving a total generating capacity of 1,200 MW.

1963 Growing demand for electricity forces the SECV to review this capacity.

1964 Hazelwood begins its commission.

1965 Approval of two additional units is granted.

1971 After twelve years Hazelwood is finally fully functional producing 1,600 megawatts of base load electricity.

1970s Expansion in the Lartobe Valley continues with Yallourn W replacing older units and delivering greater reliability using Japanese and German technology, compared to the previously utilised equipment from the UK.

A new gas fuelled power station was also proposed in the early 1970s but met opposition from nearby residents becoming the first major SECV project that met widespread opposition from the general public. It was not opened until the 1980s and with only half the proposed capacity.

1980s Two new power stations in Loy Yang are built. The project was hit by cost overruns and an independent review finds excessive rates of construction, poor project management and general over-manning.

THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC POWER

Hazelwood CO2 VS Victorian Premiers

Click image for more detail

1992 SECV announce that Hazelwood will be retired in 2005, to follow older plants at Newport and Yallourn.

1994 After 79 years of looking after Victoria’s energy needs, the Kennett government split the SECV into five distribution and retail companies.

1996 92% of Hazelwood is purchased for $2.4 billion by UK-owned International Power (IP), who were previously the UK’s Central Electricity Generating Board which was privatised itself in 1990 by the Thatcher government. The Commonwealth Bank pick up the remaining 8%.

The deal makes it into The Mayne Reports The great power industry shuffle list and is described as “ridiculous”.

1997 Hazelwood Power Station was one of the first signatories to the Commonwealth Government’s Greenhouse Challenge program.

2003 IP are told by the State Government that greenhouse emissions from the Power Station are outside of the scope of the environment effects statement, which the government itself, required IP to produce in regards to a planned extension to mining operations, essential as the current mine is reaching capacity. Brown coal being less economical means it must be mined close to where it is burned. To not grant the mines extension means Hazelwood’s closure is imminent.

2004 “It’ll be interesting now if we are given enough of a future to repay the investment” Dave Quinn, working on Hazelwood’s $85 million upgrades. Taken from IPs annual report.

2005 WWF release a report showing Hazelwood “is the most polluting of all power stations operating in the world’s major industrialised countries.” It goes on to say “Despite receiving a $500 million upgrade over the past eight years, pollution from Hazelwood increased by 2.7 per cent between 1998 and 2004”. John Parker from Gippsland Trades and Labour Council tells ABC’s Stateline “I think it’s ridiculous to keep a power station open that long, knowing that power station is polluting,… I don’t believe that the world will stand by and allow us to keep those sort of power stations on-line”

Nimby (not in my backyard) protests stop the development of wind farms in Ballarat and Macedon whilst after two years of negotiations the Brack’s Government extends the life of Hazelwood power station. The deal includes a $400 million expansion of the mine, an extra 43 million tonnes of coal for IP, the approval to mine 436 million tonnes of coal within the company’s license and the ‘realignment’ of Strzelecki Highway, Morwell River and 16 homes.

As a part of the agreement if IP emits more than 445 million tonnes of CO2, Hazelwood must close. However if they pollute over this cap they can off-set it by purchasing credits from renewable energy to enable them to continue polluting. The company must also demonstrate cleaner coal technologies. Then Premier, Steve Bracks says the deal “struck the right balance between our environmental priorities and the need for a secure and affordable energy supply”.

In the same month the Government released its Victorian Greenhouse Strategy Action Plan Update (DSE 2005), which states:
“A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is already urgent, particularly at a time when energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. The earlier that action is taken, the more orderly will be the transition to a low-carbon future”.

Kenneth Davidson of The Age asks “have the Hazelwood owners been told that the price of the extension of the power station’s life is that within a few years they could be selling the most expensively produced electricity into the national energy market? Or is there a mutual expectation that a future government will do a dirty deal that shifts the cost of pollution on to the general taxpayer?”

HAZELWOOD OPPOSITION GROWS

2009 Jun CFMEU protests at Hazelwood over the rights of Emergency Service Officers (ESOs). Victorian District Secretary Greg Hardy tell Common Cause “With the outsourcing of the emergency services, the workers pay and conditions were smashed and they have never recovered at Hazelwood.”

2009 Sep – Several hundred protesters issue a “Community Decommission” notice to IP at the Switch of Hazelwood protest.

2009 Oct Hazelwood opens a $10 million demonstration plant. The facility captures 25 tonnes of CO2 per day (which is 0.05% of the plant’s total of 11.5 million emissions per year) at an estimated cost of about $1100 for each tonne captured.

Premier John Brumby becomes ”the leading advocate” in Canberra to secure more compensation for the old brown coal-fired stations in the emissions trading scheme.

In response to the Switch of Hazelwood protest the Victorian Government introduces new laws that can lead to a $28,000 fine and up to two years in goal.

2010 Jan IP announce a restructure to the $742 million Hazelwood Debt.

The banks providing the restructured facility are Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo Misubishi UFJ Ltd, BankWest, BNP Paribas, BOS International, Calyon Australia Limited, Credit Industrial and Commercial, DBS Bank Ltd, Dexia Credit Local, Fortis Bank SA, Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Societe Generale, United Overseas Bank Limited, West LB AG, and Westpac Banking Corporation (bold added to Australian Banks).

2010 Feb The executive director of IP Australia, Tony Concannon, announces that the power station may close by 2016 if the CPRS is passed in Parliament.

2010 April Alcoa announces that it will continue to depend on the States Brown Coal for power, but will no longer source that power from IP.

2010 May IP caught out lobbying against energy efficiency measures (“Energy efficiency efforts will hurt our profits, says big polluter”, The Age, 20/5/10).

The Replace Hazelwood campaign is launched by a coalition of environment groups and community organisations.

Environment Victoria’s report shows that Hazelwood can be replaced within two years by bringing forward projects that are already in the pipeline.

2014 February – Hazelwood mine fire burns for 45 days in February and March creating an air pollution disaster for Morwell and the La Trobe Valley. It is the worst pollution disaster in the state’s history.

March 2014 – Napthine Government establishes mine fire enquiry

2014 September – The initial Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Report tabled in the Victorian Parliament on 2 September 2014

2015 March – CFA issues $18 million invoice to GDF Suez for fire fighting effort in putting out Hazelwood mine fire

2015 May – Premier Andrews and Victorian Government announce re-opening of mine fire enquiry

2015 July – GDF Suez reject CFA invoice for costs of fire fighting the 2014 mine fire

2015 September – CFA to launch court action to recover $18 million firefighting costs of mine fire

2015 October – In lead up to Paris Climate conference COP21 Parent company Engie announce no more global investments in coal, although no announcement on future of existing coal assets

2015 November – Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry annual report tabled in parliament

2016 February – Worksafe Victoria announce charges against Engie companies with 10 breaches of health and safety regulations regarding the mine fire.

2016 March – The Victorian Environment Protection Authority announces prosecuting air pollution offences charging four companies in regards to the 2014 mine fire.

2016 April 7 – Hazelwood Mine fire enquiry delivers final report. See Hazelwood Mine fire Inquiry website

2016 April 15 – Andrews Government announces response to mine fire enquiry with $50 million increased health and air pollution monitoring focus and a staged increase in mine rehabilitation bonds up to the self-assessed value of rehabilitation costs and foreshadows developing a more effective system to set future mine rehabilitation bonds.

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