Coal boss threatens legal action over $32b renewables plan
A coal power station boss has threatened legal action over NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean's $32 billion renewables roadmap, amid concerns the "gross" intervention in the market will push up electricity prices.
The state government's infrastructure bill to legislate massive "renewable energy zones" located around NSW has been criticised by the electricity sector as unnecessary interference.
Vales Point power station boss Trevor St Baker said he had believed there was "bipartisan support" for the continued operation of coal fired power, "albeit at minimum operational output".
"However the gigantic intervention into the electricity market in NSW ... has to be seen as a massive change of electricity law, which will have investors seeking legal redress against the government," he said.
Situated on the Central Coast, Vales Point has a total generating capacity of 1320MW of power.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the $130-a-year bill savings figure Mr Kean has used to sell the plan is based on the scenario that consumers would have to pay more if four of the state's five coal-powered stations closed and nothing was done to replace the energy they produce.
"Yes, if we did nothing consumers would bear the brunt of higher prices, as we've seen in other states where generators have closed before they've been replaced," Mr Kean said.
One Nation's NSW leader Mark Latham said future savings were "meaningless" for consumers.
"It adds to Mr Kean's appalling pattern of either hiding the facts or manipulating them on this bill," he said.
AGL chief executive Brett Redman was also scathing of the NSW Government's clean energy policy, arguing the market should be left to drive investment in battery and pumped hydro which were already "on the verge of absolutely taking off".
Mr Redman said AGL was "rushing to do some modelling" to better understand the roadmap, while a spokesman for EnergyAustralia also confirmed the company was "taking time" to review it.
It came as EnergyAustralia's Liz Westcott announced a final decision on the Tallawarra gas project in NSW had been deferred to next year.
Australian Energy Council chief executive Sarah McNamara said she was concerned about the roadmap's potential to "distort" the market, confirming it was "already impacting investment decisions" in NSW.
"The NSW-specific reliability target being imposed under this plan is excessive and along with the underwriting may lead to an overbuild of energy assets in NSW," she said.
"This would ultimately mean higher costs for households."
The decision to prioritise Mr Kean's energy bill in the Upper House has caused dismay within the government, with one Coalition MP describing it as "unprecedented" to not pass the budget bill the week it was handed down.
Senior Coalition members also accused the government of losing control of the Upper House.
Mr Latham forced parliament to sit for an extra week to consider the legislation by moving almost 250 amendments to the bill.
The government will now change the order of business in parliament to deal with the Budget before continuing debate on the energy bill.
Multiple coalition members, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have lashed out at Mr Kean, accusing him of trying to rush through his legislation.
With the support of Labor and the Greens, the energy bill is set to easily pass the upper house, but Mr Latham's amendments must be considered before it can go to a final vote. .
Originally published as Coal boss threatens legal action over $32b renewables plan