Canberra Report - Hunter is a Powerhouse - Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Canberra Report - Hunter is a Powerhouse - Wednesday, 23 September 2020 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

23 September 2020

In 2015 AGL gave 5 years’ notice it would need to decommission Liddell power station by 2022. That sort of notice has never been given before. I immediately began working with and lobbying AGL to ensure power station workers would be taken care of and AGL invested in new local generation and storage capacity.

The generation gap is 1,000 megawatt hours. Liddell’s installed capacity is 2,000 MwH but she is so old she can’t ramp-up to much more than 1,000 MwH. So AGL’s plan has been to upgrade the Bayswater power station (100 MwH), build a local gas-fired power station (250 MwH), build pumped-hydro at Bell’s Mountain (250 MwH) and to build a battery on the Liddell site (500 MwH). All of these initiatives would provide firming power to keep our electricity grid stable.

Each of the projects should have been closer to reality now but Scott Morrison ran interference on them by trying to bully AGL into extending the life of Liddell. Last week, he ran up the white flag on that silly campaign and backed AGL’s plans. Now he’s standing out of our way, we can get on with it.

We’ve also been working on a second gas-fired power station, this one to be built by Snowy Hydro. The 350 MwH station will be built on the former Hydro (Alcan) Aluminium site in Kurri Kurri. 

To make these new gas-fired generators work, we need more gas. We are going to make that happen, I hope, by getting the Narrabri gas project across the line after 10 years in the making, and a new gas pipeline from Queensland, where there is an abundance of gas.

If all goes well, the Hunter will remain the powerhouse of NSW, jobs will be created, and our electricity will be more reliable and affordable. All of these are happening not thanks to the Prime Minister, but despite him.