AGL Energy boss Andy Vesey says his company has not questioned its decision to shut down the Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW despite mounting attacks from the federal government urging a reversal of the move.
Mr Vesey said the AGL board had not been swayed by criticism from the Prime Minister and senior Coalition figures because the decision to close the ageing power plant was based on a rigorous process.
“Second guessing is not part of that because when we make that decision we have alignment, we have the underlining work to prove it and that is the only way you can deal with these things,” Mr Vesey told the Inspiring Leadership Summit in Sydney.
I think it was a big step for the company and we still all agree that it was the right step.”
Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday urged AGL to consider an offer from Alinta Energy to buy the Liddell power station, which is expected to close in 2022.
The call echoed that of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who wants Liddell to stay open until 2025, when Snowy Hydro 2.0 is online, to ensure there is no gap in power availability.
Mr Turnbull is encouraging AGL to sell the power station in order to keep downward pressure on power prices.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has called on the government to nationalise the NSW-based coal-fired power station because electricity is an essential service.
But his calls were dismissed by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who on Tuesday said while the government’s national energy guarantee will address reliability issues in the energy grid, keeping Liddell open would help contain soaring power costs.
On Wednesday Mr Vesey said AGL was not afraid to engage with people who disagree on the decision to close the power station but staff at Liddell deserved certainty.
“All people want is to be treated with respect, be given the information and treated like an adult – because that is what they are,” he said.
“It is something that we have to manage through and what your people have to believe is that they have a leadership that does practice integrity and that at the end of the day will always work to the benefit of the organisation.”
AGL shares were down 19 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $20.91 by 1:11pm AEST on Wednesday.