“Our thoughts today are with the employees of the Hazlewood power station and the wider Latrobe Valley community,” Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Australia is currently in the midst of an inevitable transition to a lower-emission electricity system and the closure of the Hazelwood power station, which was completed 45 years ago, is reflective of this transition.
“To ensure Australians continue to have access to secure, reliable and affordable energy, and to provide a smooth transition for the workers and communities that support coal-fired power stations, Australia must have integrated energy and climate change policies that manage the transition away from emissions intensive generation.
“The Finkel Review is an important opportunity to undertake a holistic assessment of Australia’s energy system and establish a platform for sensible policy and regulatory reform of Australia’s electricity markets to ensure they are reliable, affordable and sustainable.
“The closure of a number of coal-fired power stations in recent years, coupled with the slated closure of both Hazlewood and Liddell power stations, will mean the National Electricity Market is increasingly reliant on new sources of renewable energy along with gas-fired generation to meet demand. As a result, wholesale electricity prices are expected to rise.
“Ensuring Australia has access to sufficient new sources of gas will be critical. Gas offers a reliable and lower-emission source of electricity generation that can complement renewable energy technologies. The Victorian Government’s plan to ban the exploration and extraction of onshore gas in Victoria is a missed opportunity to secure Victoria’s energy future along with new sources of employment.
“Further, State-based renewable energy targets, such as the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, only serve to increase the cost of renewable energy projects that are being built under the national scheme and further distort Australia’s electricity markets.
“Australia needs a suite of durable climate change policies that are integrated with broader energy policy and are capable of delivering Australia’s emissions reduction targets, at lowest possible cost, while maintaining competitiveness and growing Australia’s future economy.”