The “imminent” closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station will affect electricity prices, Victoria’s government admits.
Treasurer Tim Pallas insists he does not know when Hazelwood’s French owner, Engie, will announce the Latrobe Valley station’s closure but the government expects to be notified immediately a decision is made.
“We hear an announcement is imminent,” Mr Pallas told reporters on Wednesday.
“(But) in my conversations with the company they were clear that until their board had made a decision they were not going to share with us, or anybody else for that matter, what the ultimate outcome would be.”
The Treasurer acknowledges electricity prices will be impacted by a decision to close the mine and power station.
“If Hazelwood closes there will be an impact upon electricity pricing – how much that will be we’ll need to continue to monitor,” Mr Pallas said.
“There is no doubt, however, that there is a substantial capacity in the network to absorb a closure.”
Opposition treasury spokesman Michael O’Brien pounced on Mr Pallas’ comments.
“Now the truth comes out that power prices will go up when Hazelwood shuts down,” he said on Wednesday.
“When I was a minister not that long ago, certainly the advice to me was put in this way: Hazelwood provides 25 per cent of our electricity needs.
“If you were sitting on a four-legged chair and one leg falls off, the chair’s not going to stay upright for very long.”
Not-for-profit conservation group Environment Victoria’s chief executive Mark Wakeham says arguments over pricing increases are “overblown”.
But he said the community would be significantly hurt by the closure and major environmental rehabilitation would be needed at the power station and mine site.