Coal-fired dissenters fan an evidence-poor debate


WE live in interesting times.

A prime minister and former banker leading a free market party phones a private company chairman to urge a power station sale based on “doing the right thing” and what would be in the public interest.

An ageing power station on the outskirts of a NSW country town suddenly becomes the focus of a national debate about the country’s energy future.

A group of senior politicians invoke the name of a famous n general –much to the general’s family’s horror –to push what the general’s family describes as an “anti-science and anti-intellectual argument” for coal and a government-funded coal fired power station.

And all against a backdrop of an energy “crisis” that’s been predicted for years.

Interesting times indeed.

Liddell owner AGL has bunkered down this week as “Sell Liddell 2.0” has raged around it, with everyone from the prime minister, energy minister, former prime minister, formerdeputy prime minister, academics, business groups, energy groups, competition authorities, unions and AGL competitors weighing in on the debate.

What the public makes of it all is anyone’s guess.

Certainly people are horrified and alarmed by the soaring cost of electricity in –a land blessed with an abundance of energy sources but cursed by a surfeit of dumb political resource and energy decision-making.

They are also increasingly concerned about climate change and the impacts of that change on the environment, despite the best efforts of the government’s climate change deniers to talk up coal.

People understand that coal remains our major power source, and that is a situation that will continue for some years to come. But they also grasp that clinging to coal and the structures that have supported coal almost since Europeans landed on n soil, stops innovation.

The n Energy Market Operator’s warnings in March about a “significant” shortfall of dispatchable capacity when Liddell closes in 2022 was widely reported, but the media reports failed to emphasise it was a warning based on what is currently known and confirmed, but not what’s projected and already in the works.

There is instability in the energy market, but it’s largely of the government’s making.

Issue: 38,767.

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