Australia Keeps Pressure on AGL to Extend Life of Liddell Plant

Australia’s government will keep up the pressure on AGL Energy Ltd. to extend the life of its Liddell coal-fired power station with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull scheduled to meet company executives Monday.

The government is urging AGL to consider options to keep the Hunter Valley plant running, saying it provides reliable capacity that is essential to maintain security of supply in New South Wales state. The Sydney-based company has said the plant needs to close by 2022, although it could be sold.

“It’s very important we keep Liddell open,” Treasurer Scott Morrison told ABC TV program Insiders on Sunday. “I am happy to assist to see that they actually sell Liddell to a responsible party. I think that would be a good thing.”

The government is responding to reports that called for states to have in place reliable thermal electricity generation to provide security of supply if weather-dependent hydro plants or wind farms are unable to meet demand. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says coal-fired stations provide base-load power and would help avoid power blackouts that have blighted states like South Australia when thermal plants have been shuttered.

“It is unbelievable that we are going into this summer and people are concerned about whether the lights will stay on,” he told Sky News on Sunday. “We need to take out that insurance by keeping our existing coal fleet going.”

Frydenberg said coal will be an important part of the electricity generation mix “for years and years to come” and that the interests of the system would be best served by keeping Liddell open.

“We have five years to continue the life of that station or ensure there is no supply shortage -- that is what we are going to investigate,” he said. “AGL needs to act in the public interest and that is ensuring there is no shortfall when Liddell closes.”

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