Coalition attacks AGL decision to close Liddell power station

coal AGL Liddell
Liddell Power Station

Coalition MPs have attacked AGL’s decision to shut the Liddell power station in 2022, saying the plan to use renewable energy sources will reduce base-load dispatchable power.

Over the weekend, AGL confirmed its planned closure of the coal-fired power station, saying it would be replaced with a mix of renewables including gas plants and battery storage.

The decision flies in the face of the Coalition’s suggestion to keep the station open for at least five years at a total cost of $1 billion. AGL estimates its new plan will provide power at $83/MWh, as opposed to $106/MWh to extend the life of Liddell.

However, Coalition MP Craig Kelly claims the reduction in supply of dispatchable power wills push up the wholesale price of electricity and leave the state more vulnerable to blackouts.

He said the decision highlighted the need for the national energy guarantee (NEG), which mandates a certain amount of dispatchable power.

Nationals MP Andrew Broad said while renewable mixes “can be done and can work”, it was “hard to believe” AGL could provide equivalent reliability, availability and affordability from the combination of replacement power sources at a scale needed to replace Liddell.

“I suspect it will be a similar story to when Hazelwood was shut,” he said.

“There were lots of assurances given but the peak gap is going to be filed by expensive and dirty diesel generators this summer in Victoria and South Australia.”

Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said the 1,000MW shortfall in dispatchable power could be covered by keeping Liddell open, selling it or a “portfolio of new assets and new generation” as AGL has now proposed.

Frydenberg said the government had asked AEMO to assess AGL’s plan and report by mid-February.