Formal decision to close Hazelwood still not made, insists minister

Image: Jason South/Fairfax

No final decision to shut the La Trobe Valley’s Hazelwood power plant, energy minister Josh Frydenberg has insisted today, as reports continue that its French majority owner is set to close the site by April if a buyer doesn’t come forward.

The ABC reports that Frydenberg has been in France, meeting with Engie – the 72 per cent owner of Hazelwood and French environment minister Segolene Royale, who has been pressuring Engie to exit Hazelwood. Engine itself is a third owned by the French government.

“We’re very conscious at the Federal Government level of the heightened speculation about Hazelwood’s future,” he told the ABC today.

The Australian reports that without a buyer, the plant, which employs around 1,000 directly and indirectly, would shut by April. This would, according to the report, see wholesale power prices in the state increase by 10 to 25 per cent. It provides roughly a tenth of the state’s electricity.

 

There would be significant costs and difficulties attached to ownership for a new buyer, said Geoff Dyke, the state’s CFMEU secretary.

“Let’s say it is worth $100 million: well, the liabilities for rehabilitating the site might be $300m. Another problem is the American, English and Australian banks have policies preventing them from lending to coal projects, so you need finance from a Japanese, Chinese or Indian bank,” he told The Australian.