Burning coal profitable, PM says amid Liddell power station confusion

But there’s confusion over whether the Liddell power station will be sold, with its owner resolute it’s not selling it off, despite the Prime Minister asserting he’s in talks with the company to find a buyer.

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Mr Turnbull on Wednesday warned there will be up to 1000 megawatt shortage in baseload dispatchable power generation with the 2022 closure of the station, located in the NSW Hunter region.

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He said the station should remain open to ensure a stable supply of electricity.

‘It is very, very important to maintain dispatchable generation,” he said.

“You can’t run an electricity system just on solar panels and wind farms. You can’t.”

The Prime Minister said energy companies are benefitting from higher electricity prices.

“Burning coal to make electricity has never been more profitable than it is at the moment.”

He said he’s also in talks with the chief executive of AGL Andy Vesey, to keep Liddell open, despite Mr Vesey earlier claiming the company was adamant about exiting coal.

“They’ve said they want to get out of it but they have said they are prepared to discuss the sale of the power station to a responsible party,” the Prime Minister said.

“That is what we will be discussing further with Andy when we see him next week.”

However, AGL has said it’s made no promises to sell.

“The company has made no commitment to sell the Liddell Power Station nor to extend its life beyond 2022,” it said in a statement.

Labor accused the Prime Minister of having no plan on energy.

“We’ve seen in a statement by AGL to the ASX, to the stock exchange, that AGL has no plans to sell the Liddell power station,” opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said.

“This just demonstrates that Malcolm Turnbull is making this up as he goes along. Rather than indicating to the country in its broadest sense that there is stable, viable energy policy for the country, he’s making this up.”

Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, whose electorate encompasses Liddell, said the station is 50 years old and keeping it open would be costly.

“It’s very difficult to extend its life, it would take at least half a billion, probably a billion dollars, to get just a few more years out of it and even then it would be less reliable than it is now,” he said.

When asked for clarity on whether it was selling Liddell, AGL told SBS World News it was not making any further comment.

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