Candidate calls for power station feasibility study

Independent candidate for Morwell Ray Burgess has called on Labor to support a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station for the region. file photograph

Independent candidate for Morwell Ray Burgess has called on Labor to support a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station for the region. file photograph

Independent Morwell candidate Ray Burgess has called on Labor to support a study into the feasibility of a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Burgess released a statement yesterday afternoon calling on ALP Morwell candidate Mark Richards to back his proposal to investigate building a high-efficiency, low-emissions power station in the region.

"I've never pretended that building a new power station is going to be easy," Mr Burgess said.

"However, I'm keeping an open mind and arguing for a new power station because, to me and many others, it makes sense at regional, state and national levels."

The independent candidate announced last month he would stand for Morwell at November's state election on a platform of reinvigorating the region's power industry.

Mr Burgess and Mr Richards have previously gone head-to-head after the Labor candidate said a new Latrobe Valley power station was unlikely and delivering false hope to the region.

In response, Mr Richards said a new study was not required and would "just demonstrate what all the economists, energy experts and banks have been saying for years – that no one is going to build a new coal-fired plant".

Labor's Morwell candidate Mark Richards at the announcement of the Hazelwood Worker Transfer Scheme in March last year. file photograph

Labor's Morwell candidate Mark Richards at the announcement of the Hazelwood Worker Transfer Scheme in March last year. file photograph

"The threat of a new coal-fired power plant could cause Yallourn to close early – causing more job losses in the Valley that would hurt local families," he said.

"We're creating hundreds of new jobs through our record investment in [the] Latrobe Valley, and backing initiatives like the $496m coal-to-hydrogen project that could create hundreds more jobs.”

The war of words between the two candidates comes as the nation's energy ministers prepare to discuss the federal Coalition's National Energy Guarantee framework at Friday's Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting.

The NEG aims to reduce electricity bills while meeting Australia's Paris Agreement emissions reduction target of 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

To do so, it would require electricity retailers to source a certain amount of energy from more reliable sources, such as coal, gas, pumped hydro or batteries.

They would be required to source a certain amount from cleaner sources to help tackle carbon emissions.

The nation's energy ministers are due to meet on Friday to discuss final approval for the Coalition's National Energy Guarantee framework.

The nation's energy ministers are due to meet on Friday to discuss final approval for the Coalition's National Energy Guarantee framework.

The NEG requires unanimous approval from Victoria, NSW, ACT, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania on Friday, before the final framework is put to the Coalition party room and then Parliament.

State Labor governments believe the emissions reduction target is too low, despite federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg agreeing to a 2024 review of the target.

The Victorian government has placed four conditions on its support:

  • That emissions reduction targets are allowed to increase over time and not go backwards.
  • Future emissions targets will be set by regulation.
  • Targets will be set every three years, three years in advance.
  • The establishment of a transparent registry, with access by regulators and governments to ensure the NEG is working in the interests of consumers.

"We won't support any scheme that puts our renewable energy industry and Victorian jobs at risk," Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio said.

In response, Nationals Morwell candidate Sheridan Bond accused the state government of playing politics over the NEG and called on it to support it in a bid to cut power prices.

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