Hazelwood in French spotlight: French Minister and ENGIE CEO signal likely closure
The Andrews Government needs to be working on transition planning for the LaTrobe Valley communities with the latest news from France that French company Engie is considering closure or sale of Hazelwood. The company’s major shareholder is the French state and French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal said on France TV that Engie needs to “disengage” with coal.
The Minister for Resources, Wade Noonan, commented: “The Government has been in contact with the mine’s owner Engie about this matter and I’m advised that no decision has been made,” Mr Noonan said. “Those discussions will continue. As the state’s new Resources Minister I look forward to meeting with the Latrobe Valley’s coal generators as well as local residents to discuss these issues.” as reported by the ABC.
If the Minister’s comments reflect the broader government attitude, it is a poor reflection on the ill-preparedness in the Victorian government for a just energy transition, especially after their April announcements following the mine fire inquiry recommendations.
We know from the experience of the recent South Australia closure of coal fired power stations that the state government needs to be planning transition long before private corporations make the actual decisions on closure.
If proper planning had occurred in South Australia, Port Augusta would have built a concentrating solar thermal plant with storage to provide energy and some employment transition, which would also increase grid reliability balancing wind power generation and use of the grid interconnection.
Sale of Hazelwood may prove very difficult considering the three court actions pending due to the 2014 mine fire and the increased mine rehabilitation bond pending a full review of mine rehabilitation costs by the state government.
Hazelwood produces just under 1600Mw of power, but there is an excess of power in the grid in Victoria of about 2000Mw, and nationally there is 11,876Mw excess peak capacity in the grid according to the Australian energy regulator. There appears to be no good electricity supply reason not to close down Hazelwood. There are indications that with the amount of excess power in the grid private investment in new renewables is being hindered.
Minister of Ecology Ségolène Royal announced on French TV on May 25th that Engie would “disengage” from the Hazelwood plant.
“Yes, Lafarge will pay and Engie must stop coal. The merit of showing the battles to fight. #COP21” – Ségolène Royal
Segolene Royal is the President of COP21 and a high profile French participant in UN climate talks.
During the interview the Minister was presented with a postcard by Environment Victoria regarding the 2014 mine fire which she read at the time. At the end of the show she was handed the mailbag full of postcards.
This tweet by Mark Wakeham shows Hazelwood being the dirtiest, most polluting power station.
Read my full blog on this: Hazelwood closure or sale mooted by Engie CEO, under pressure of French Government
The petition by Environment Victoria delivered:
Environment Victoria have a campaign: Premier Andrews, work with Engie to phase out Hazelwood