EnergyAustralia has called for a timely resolution to ongoing uncertainty about coal supply to its Mt Piper power station, near Lithgow in New South Wales.
Mt Piper, the state’s newest and most efficient coal-fired power station, has total generation capacity of 1400MW, enough energy to meet the annual electricity needs of some 1.2 million homes and supply up to 15 per cent of NSW’s electricity demand.
In August, planning consent for the Springvale mine, the only source of coal supply for Mt Piper, was challenged successfully in the NSW Court of Appeal.
The action related to the quality of water discharged from the mine, owned by Centennial Coal.
“EnergyAustralia and Centennial Coal have a water treatment project ready to go that fixes the problem identified in the legal challenge,” EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Tanna said.
“That project is shovel ready. It will mean no water is discharged from the mine into river systems, which is a good outcome.
“The project requires significant investment, but right now it’s in peril while the mine planning consents are unresolved.”
Ms Tanna said securing supply for the power station, which entered service in 1992 with a 50-year operating life, had been challenging due to a demanding planning process.
After spending five years considering all impacts on the environment, the community and the economy, the Springvale mine was approved.
Ms Tanna called for a swift resolution that provides certainty for households, businesses, the local community and the workers who depend upon the Mt Piper power station and the Springvale mine for their livelihoods.
“It’s time for common sense to prevail. With a secure source of coal supply, Mt Piper can move from rationing electricity sales to selling all its capacity, which can only help ease the pressure on electricity prices,” she said.
“As we head into summer, households and businesses want to know the lights will stay on and that they won’t be asked to bear even higher electricity prices than they already do.
“It will take real political courage and leadership to find a timely resolution.”
In March, EnergyAustralia launched a study to assess the viability of converting part of the Mt Piper power station to run on non-recyclable household materials.
The refuse-derived fuel, or RDF, energy project is a joint initiative of EnergyAustralia and recovery and recycling management company Re.Group.
The potential development involves installing a purpose-built boiler at the Mt Piper power station fuelled by every-day materials, such as discarded plastics, linen and non-recyclable paper, that would otherwise go to landfill.
The proposed $60 million project would have capacity to generate around 13MW of cleaner and reliable, base-load energy, enough to power around 22,000 average Australian homes.