The decision by AGL to close their Liddell power station as planned 2022 welcomed

AGL’s decision welcomed by environmental group and union

Environmental Justice Australia and the Construction Forestry Energy and Mining Union (CFMEU) have welcomed AGL’s decision to turn down Alinta’s offer for the Liddell power station.

AGL’s Board told the Australian Stock Exchange that the offer was not in the best interests of AGL or its shareholders.

After months of Federal Government pressure to either keep the old coal-fired plant open longer or sell it to somebody who will, the AGL board has decided to proceed with its original plan.

"The AGL board has determined that the offer is not in the best interests of AGL or its shareholders," the company told the ASX on Monday.

"The offer significantly undervalues future cash flows to AGL of operating the Liddell power station until 2022 and the repurposing of the site thereafter.

"Consequently, AGL has reaffirmed its decision to close Liddell in December 2022 and will continue progressing its NSW generation plan, which includes repurposing Liddell.

"The Australian Energy Market Operator has confirmed that completion of this plan will address the capacity shortfall that may occur as a result of Liddell's closure."

Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) has prepared numerous studies on the aging facility most recently reporting  the power station has been granted an exemption from NSW air pollution regulations and emits toxic oxides of nitrogen (NOx) up to 14 times the concentration allowable in the United States, documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal.

The extraordinary exemption permits the coal-fired power station to emit toxic NOx at almost twice the concentration allowed for other NSW power stations of comparable age.

“EJA welcomes the AGL board’s decision to turn down Alinta’s bid for the 46-year-old Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley,” said EJA researcher Dr James Whelan.

“AGL’s Board determined that Alinta’s offer was not in the company’s or its shareholders’ interests. Neither was it in the public interest.

“Alinta has a dreadful track record as a polluter.

“After Alinta’s Northern power station ceased operation in 2016, the plant’s ash dam dried out, resulting in toxic coal ash cloaking the nearby Port Augusta community.

“Alinta did not install best practice emission controls and exposed the community to excessive pollution.

“When AGL closes Liddell in 2022, Hunter Valley communities will breathe cleaner air,” Dr Whelan said.

“Every time an old coal-fired power stations closes to be replaced by renewable energy, there’s an immediate health benefit to communities within 100 kilometres of the facility.”

The CFMEU Mining and Energy division has welcomed the decision by AGL Energy to decline an offer by Alinta Energy to purchase the Liddell Power Station.

The union successfully negotiated an agreement with AGL for a plan to protect the job security of the 300 workers at the plant, through repurposing the Liddell site to and investing in an upgrade of the nearby Bayswater power station.

“Last year AGL made a commitment to us that there would be no forced redundancies of the Liddell workers, and we are pleased they are continuing with these plans,” CFMEU Mining and Energy Division National President Tony Maher said. 

“The offer by Alinta to purchase Liddell was unsolicited and ambiguous, and the union has no confidence that jobs would be secure under such a plan.

“We have an agreement with AGL that all existing employees would be able to remain in employment at either Bayswater or the repurposed Liddell, or take a voluntary redundancy. 

“There is no plan on the table that can guarantee those outcomes. 

“AGL’s decision is a sensible one.”