No need for polluting Alcoa coal plant

ImageEnvironment group Friends of the Earth say there’s no need for Alcoa to be granted a license to generate electricity at their Anglesea coal power plant. Rather, the plant that came online in the 1960s should be retired—delivering public health and climate change benefits for Victorians.

The current state of the energy market makes the retirement of the coal power plant possible. There’s now an oversupply of fossil fuel generators in the energy system.

The oversupply is due to decreasing electricity demand from increased energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar and wind farms coming online.

In its application, Alcoa says the impacts of not granting the license on electricity prices and reliability must be considered. Removing 150 megawatts of polluting coal power is really a drop in the ocean in terms of power prices. The impact of rejecting Alcoa’s generation license on electricity prices would be virtually undetectable.

Retiring the Alcoa coal power station will barely affect power prices, yet will deliver benefits for the local community who are sick of pollution spewing over their community. It will also deliver sizable carbon emissions savings and help Victorians address climate change.

The Essential Services Commission have narrow objectives to assess Alcoa’s application. They don’t have a remit to reject the application on the grounds of climate change.

If the government allows this ancient coal power plant to continue operating, it’ll be clear to Victorians that the Coalition back fossil fuels over renewable energy, public health and climate change action.

Anti-wind farm laws introduced by Premier Ted Baillieu in 2011 killed off the Surf Coast Energy Group’s dream for a community wind farm project in the region.

Plans for a 12MW geothermal energy installation to power the industrial city of Geelong and Surf Coast region were scrapped after the Napthine Government withdrew a $25 million grant for the project.

If the objective is to increase competition via low marginal cost production and decrease prices to consumers, there is no better way than using more renewable energy. Yet the Coalition are killing renewable energy projects when they should be supporting them.

Given the strong public support for renewable energy, the political parties who support renewable energy will have the edge in next year’s state election. The renewable energy sector can act as an engine for economic development and job creation.

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