Craig Kelly: AGL Speaks With Forked Tongue On Liddell Power Station

Craig Kelly - Liddell Power Station

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has accused AGL of being deceitful with regard to the Liddell Power Station stoush. Pot, meet kettle?

The argy-bargy over the future of the Liddell Power Station is continuing. AGL’s CEO publicly states he wants to shut down the coal-fired clunker in 2022, the Turnbull Government wants it to keep going.

In an interview with the ABC, Mr Kelly painted AGL as one of Australia’s biggest corporate villains.

“This seems to be completely contrary to the information that was coming out of the meeting with the Prime Minister and I think it appears AGL speaks with forked tongue,” said Mr. Kelly. “They seem to be saying one thing and doing another thing – they’re claiming they’re this clean green company when predominately they’re a coal generator.”

Mr. Kelly is an unabashed supporter of coal – as for renewables; not so much. In July this year, he linked recent electricity price increases to subsidies for renewables that he said would cause deaths this winter. Widely regarded as an overreach, a couple of important points Mr. Kelly didn’t mention were the subsidies the coal sector enjoys, or the well-established fact that coal kills.

Liddell Power Station On Its Last Legs

It can sometimes be a sad fact that companies are legally obliged to act in the best interest of their shareholders; even if actions may have a negative impact on the wider community. However, in this case, that obligation may work out well.

In a statement on Monday, AGL stated it had spent $123 million on Liddell Power Station to improve reliability since the company acquired it.

” Despite this investment, during the February 2017 heatwave, two units from Liddell were out of the market due to unforeseeable boiler tube leaks. As a result, there was not enough energy in the system and NSW experienced blackouts in parts of the State,” said the company.

AGL says the power station will likely experience more unanticipated outages and will spend a further $159 million to improve reliability before it closes in 2022.

Regarding the Prime Minister’s desire to keep it operating:

“I was asked to take to the AGL Board the Government’s request to continue the operation of Liddell post 2022 for five years and/or sell Liddell, which I agreed to do,” said AGL’s MD & CEO Andy Vesey.

Mr. Vesey reiterated AGL’s commitment to closing coal-fired power stations at the end of their operating life and its views on the future of coal.

“Short term, new development will continue to favour renewables supported by gas peaking. Longer term, we see this trend continuing with large scale battery deployment enhancing the value of renewable technology. In this environment, we just don’t see new development of coal as economically rational, even before factoring in a carbon cost,” Mr Vesey said.

The company has committed to delivering a plan to the government of the actions it will take to avoid a market shortfall after Liddell’s closure within 90 days.

While AGL doesn’t seem keen to throw more of its money at Liddell, lurking in the wings is at least one potential suitor for the purchase of the power station; Delta Electricity. There are also concerns the Federal Government may throw a large and very attractive chunk of change at AGL to keep the plant running.

Remember Muja

An example of the problems with keeping coal-fired clunkers running past their use-by date can be seen in Western Australia at Muja Power Station. Refurbishment of  units A & B was initially budgeted at $150 million, but that blew out to $310 million. The refurbishment was delivered late and Muja AB has been beset by operational and reliability issues since, generating just 20 per cent of the time on average according to PerthNow.

In May, Western Australia’s Energy Minister called the refurbishment “one of the former Liberal National government’s biggest debacles” and said Muja AB would be closed in September next year.

Originally to be financed entirely by the private sector, it appears WA taxpayers will now be saddled with tens of millions of dollars in losses.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. It would be interesting, to have published, an estimate of the number of annual deaths due to the pollution, caused by the operation of that power station, so that we can know how many people the government intends to kill, by keeping that power station operating.

  2. Chris Thaler says

    What do the proponents of short term repairs propose should be done with all the equipment, installed for a short term fix, at the end of the short term extension. It will have to be written off and scrapped at time of closure as it will be of zero use anywhere else.. Just another example of short sighted and ham fisted attempts to help out some coal mining owners and assorted leeches lurking in the murky corner.

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