The Environmental Protection Agency is set to decide in mid-April if a proposed HRL coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley can go ahead. HRL wants to burn a mix of gasified coal and natural gas for power. If approved, it would increase Victoria’s emissions by over 3 per cent a year. State and federal governments have promised the project $150 million in subsidies—money that could go to renewable energy.
Jobs are a big issue in the Latrobe Valley. A community rally in Moe protesting the closure of a Telstra call centre drew over a hundred people. Climate activists can connect with these concerns by putting the demand for green jobs into the fight to stop HRL. HRL’s proposal would only create around 35 ongoing jobs—a solar project could provide many more.
Opposition to the power station is growing. The EPA points out on its web site that they have received over 4000 submissions about the proposal, many of them concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and the proposal not being in line with the Victorian government’s 20 per cent emissions reduction promise.
Many people hope that a carbon price will make coal-fired power unprofitable, but HRL has already factored the “cost of carbon permits” into its plans. Because HRL’s emissions will be marginally less than existing brown coal fired power stations it will still be highly profitable. They can also simply pass the price on to consumers. State and federal emission limits won’t stop HRL either, because they have been set way too high. Meanwhile, the new Liberal government has suggested they might oppose a wind farm in Ballarat because of its “effect on the natural environment.”
We have a fight on our hands to end coal-fired power and win direct investment in renewables instead.
By Chris Breen