Yallourn closure brought forward

Yallourn
Yallourn Power Station

EnergyAustralia has announced it will be bringing forward the closure of the Yallourn Power Station in Victoria by four years, to mid-2028.

EnergyAustralia managing director, Catherine Tanna, said EnergyAustralia approached the Victorian Government with the plan to retire Yallourn and transition to cleaner energy in a way that does not leave the workforce or the community behind.

“The energy transition is too important to leave to chance – a plan that supports people, the Latrobe Valley and locks in energy storage capacity before Yallourn retires will ensure the smoothest transition possible,” said Catherine. 

“Our $10 million support package, coupled with seven years’ advance notice, means our power station and mine site people will have time to plan, reskill or retrain,” she said.

“EnergyAustralia is determined to demonstrate that coal-fired power can exit the market in a way that supports our people and ensures customers continue to receive reliable energy.

“Meanwhile, our new battery will help to secure Victoria’s energy supply and enable more renewables to enter the system. It would be larger than any battery operating in the world today.

“Customers want affordable, reliable, cleaner sources of energy and as Yallourn has proudly supplied energy for 100 years we want to harness our history, and the expertise of our workforce, to repower Victoria.

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“We thank the Victorian Government for supporting a well-planned transition for workers, the community and the energy system.”

EnergyAustralia’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050. Yallourn’s retirement will reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by over 60 per cent relative to today, accelerating its carbon neutral ambition. 

Yallourn’s current generation capacity is up to 1480 MW, supplying about 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity demand or eight per cent of the National Electricity Market.

EnergyAustralia’s plan ensures storage is built to firm increased renewable energy in Victoria before Yallourn exits the system.

“Today is really Day One of a long-term plan that brings together many people across the energy sector to work together to deliver the clean energy transformation for all.”

EnergyAustralia historically invests between $200-$300 million per year to ensure the plant’s continued operation. Yallourn employs around 500 permanent workers on site, and for three to four months most years, the workforce increases to about 1000 for major unit outages.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said, “While the Commonwealth Government understands this is a commercial decision, the exit of 1480 MW of reliable energy generation brings with it reliability and affordability concerns.

“As an essential service, the Commonwealth Government expects the market to step up to deliver enough dispatchable generation to keep the lights on and prices low once Yallourn closes.

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“While coal exits impact reliability and system security, the major impact for consumers will be the significant increase in prices if not adequately replaced with dispatchable capacity. We have already seen this happen with the closures of Northern in South Australia and most recently Hazelwood in Victoria, where wholesale prices skyrocketed by 85 per cent.

“The Commonwealth Government will model the impact of the closure to hold industry to account on the dispatchable capacity needed to ensure affordable, reliable power for consumers.”

The Andrews Labor Government says it will put Yallourn Power Station and mine workers at the heart of its long-term response to EnergyAustralia’s decision to close the plant in 2028.

“Nothing about today’s announcement from EnergyAustralia will be easy for the workers that have powered Victoria at Yallourn for generations,” the government said in a statement.

“The truth is we’re seeing these old, coal fired power stations creaking to a stop right around the world as countries and companies are switching to new, clean, more reliable and more efficient forms of energy.

“We can’t ignore that change or pretend it’s not happening – and we owe it to these workers to build a modern energy network that creates and supports thousands of Victorian jobs.

“The 2028 closure date announced today by EnergyAustralia gives us time to do that – and it gives us time to manage this transition properly for workers, including contractors and casuals.”