WA’s McGowan Government has announced two of four operating units at Synergy’s Muja Power Station will be retired from October 2022, to protect against higher power bills for households and ensure the state’s electricity supply remains stable.
To keep the two units operating at Muja C beyond these dates would cost Western Australian taxpayers in excess of an additional $350 million. As such, the WA Government says it is no longer viable to keep the units operating.
The two Muja D units, Collie Power Station and Bluewaters, will continue to operate. The retirement of Muja C will ensure Muja D units operate more frequently, increasing their stability and long-term viability.
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Synergy’s Muja Power Station is the oldest power station in WA, and the generation output for units 5 and 6 within Muja C continues to decline – they are only being used around 35 per cent of the time.
The reduced demand means the 40-year-old units are not being deployed as designed. Closing the two C units will allow the two D units to work more often, more efficiently and more cost-effectively.
The high operating costs of Muja C, plus increased maintenance requirements due to the additional cycling of the plant, will force power prices up if it remains open.
It is expected around 30 workers will be affected by the closure of the first Muja C Unit 5 on October 1, 2022. The closure of this unit is expected to have minimal impact on coal production.
A further 40-50 workers will be potentially impacted by the Muja C Unit 6 closing on October 1, 2024.
Synergy has engaged a dedicated Workforce Transition Manager to talk to workers one-on-one about their individual needs.
Workforce transition engagements include assessment of skills, redeployment, upskilling, financial planning support, and assistance with job search, training programs and preparation for retirement.
The McGowan Government has appointed a specialist coal advisory team to work with all stakeholders to ensure the stability of the Collie basin.
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To attract new industries to Collie, the McGowan Government will establish a Collie-based Industry Attraction Team to attract investment, and work with existing industries to encourage expansion and create local jobs.
The McGowan Government has also created a $60 million Industry Attraction and Development Fund, for large-scale initiatives that will promote economic diversity and jobs in Collie, as well as the $20 million Collie Futures Fund, which is already providing new investment and new jobs in the Collie region.
Premier Mark McGowan said, “We will be working closely with Synergy to ensure all workers impacted by the closure will be supported and options are available, depending on their individual needs and future plans”.
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said it is well-recognised a major transformation is underway in the Western Australian energy sector as the take up of renewable and storage technologies increases.
“As a Government, we need to carefully manage this change to keep energy prices down and deliver reliable electricity to Western Australians,” Mr Johnston said.