We must ensure baseload energy supplies
31st March 2023
As you may have read, Origin Energy which owns Eraring Power Station is the subject of a takeover deal by Brookfield Asset Management and MidOcean Energy.
Both are committed to closing Eraring’s coal-fired energy operations “as early as possible” and at this stage that’s 2025.
Without needing to state the obvious, I don’t believe we can afford to see Eraring shut down until such a time as we have new baseload capacities from renewables in its place.
As I’ve said in today’s Newcastle Herald, while we’re after a good environmental outcome and sufficient baseload power from renewables, there has to be sufficient baseload power in the meantime.
I’ve sought meetings with Brookfield and Origin to discuss that issue (as well as the coal ash issue), but I’ll also be seeking meetings with the new Premier and Minister to make sure there are plans in place.
Premier Minns said during the election campaign that Labor was open to buying Eraring back if it was needed. I’m not sure that would be the best option but clearly they need to look at some sort of commercial arrangement which guarantees baseload supply while the energy transition occurs.
Will keep you posted.
You can read the full Newcastle Herald article below or HERE.
By Matthew Kelly
INDEPENDENT Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper has cautioned against closing Eraring power station before proven renewable baseload capacity is in place.
Mr Piper, whose support will be crucial to the new Labor government, is seeking meetings with Premier Chris Minns and Brookfield Asset Management regarding their respective plans for the 2800 megawatt coal-fired generator.
Origin Energy brought forward the plant's closure by seven years to August 2025 last year. But company chief executive Frank Calabria has since acknowledged it may need to remain open longer to support the clean energy transition.
The future of Eraring took another twist this week when Origin signed a $18.7 billion takeover deal with Brookfield Asset Management and MidOcean Energy.
Brookfield said while the company was keen to progress the closure of Eraring, it did not want consumers to be adversely affected.
Mr Piper said on Thursday that he believed the plant would be needed to ensure energy security for the foreseeable future.
"My view is that, while we're after a good environmental outcome, going into brownouts and blackouts in NSW will do more to damage to the progress of those outcomes than a considered withdrawal with sufficient dispatchable baseload power produced by renewables - that's what we want but we are not there yet," he said.
Mr Piper said his preference would be for the state or federal government to enter into a commercial arrangement to keep Eraring going as long as was needed rather than have the state government buy it back. Mr Minns had said he was open to the idea of the government acquiring the plant during the election campaign.
"Prior to the election, Labor clearly outlined to voters that our priority will be to ensure affordable and reliable energy, and voters expect this government to act on that," a government spokesman said on Thursday.
The government sold Eraring to Origin in 2013 for just $50 million. It is likely it would be required to pay significantly more than that to buy it back.
"It would be an extraordinary thing for them to do (buy it back), but I'm happy to talk to Chris Minns about it," Mr Piper said. "I'd imagine the price would not be in the state's favour. I'd be very cautious about it."
Piper wants to hear more about Brookfield's plans for coal ash recycling at Eraring.
"We have made some progress with Origin, but I really need to understand what Brookfield's intentions are because it's a massive resource if we can harness it. But if we can't harness it as a resource it becomes a massive burden," he said.