Hazlewood Power Out, Prices Up, Jobs Gone
The climate change movement and green activists have claimed another victory in their war on carbon, electricity and industry. A victory which of course is at the expense of the rest of us in terms of a higher cost of living and more unemployment. This is the impending closure of one of Victoria’s largest coal fired power stations at Hazelwood in the state’s Latrobe Valley region. The carbon tax may be long gone but the push for more expensive renewable energy hasn’t stopped, it has just shifted to other policies.
It appears clear that the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria has refused to learn anything from South Australia’s experiment with heavy reliance on renewable energy. That reliance on renewables results in them having to import coal fired power from Victoria which was a major factor in the state-wide blackout last month. The state already has one of the highest electricity prices in the world. But no Andrews sees no problem, he is eager to remain on the green bandwagon and be patted on the back from activists by implementing a clean greener future. Victoria has a renewable energy target of 25% by 2020 and then up to 40% by 2025 which is predicted to increase electricity prices by up to $30 per year.
It should be no surprise then that the coal fired Hazelwood power station would be the victim of these government policies. It was not just the renewable energy target which led to the near certain decision of the French Engie which owns the station to close it. It was also the policy of their own government in France to encourage energy companies to exit coal investments and switch to renewables. It is also because it was impossible for the company to finance any extra investment in the station as most big banks in western countries now have a policy of not lending money for coal investment thanks to lobbying from the green activists.
This perfect storm of government interventions in the energy market and the success of lobbyists in demonising investments in coal is bad news for Victorians. Hazelwood supplies Victoria with 20% of its energy needs and it is estimated that electricity prices will soar by 25%. It will also mean that up to 1000 people will lose their jobs in the Latrobe Valley which could have ripple effects throughout the area which already has an unemployment rate of 19%. Experts have said that we shouldn’t experience blackouts in Victoria because we will just be able to import coal fired energy from News South Wales. What will happen when News South Wales then starts closing down its coal fired power stations? It appears bizarre reasoning that we in Victoria can’t use coal fired power but it is okay for other states to use it and import it here. Isn’t coal always meant to be bad? Of course this assurance that blackouts won’t happen demonstrates how unreliable renewable energy is in delivering electricity in a world where access to it is essential.
We should not be having this energy crises in Australia, it is an entirely self-inflicted phenomena because of blind adherence to the new climate change faith. Australia has some of the world’s biggest coal reserves and also uranium deposits yet we are making electricity prices much higher than normal market conditions would have them. It is always low income earners who suffer in switching to less efficient renewable energy as climate activists are normally wealthier and can absorb the increase in cost but the less well-off have to go without heating or cooling during times of the year when it is needed. It also makes our local industries and businesses less competitive in a global marketplace when high electricity prices increase production costs which contributes to many companies moving operations offshore. Plus these 1000 people need not lose their jobs either as in a truly free market their jobs would be in demand.
Despite that the fact that we will see our cost of living increase through the closure of this power station, both sides of politics are sitting back and letting it happen with Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg doing nothing to prevent this closure. Premier Daniel Andrews has tried to placate fears about the destruction of the economy in the area by personally heading a taskforce to attract new business to the Latrobe Valley, in other words he is going to fix a problem he created. The biggest indictment in this sad sage is that of the unions with CFMEU happy to see the station’s closure as long as it is staged and believes workers can be redeployed in rehabilitating the area. You would think a union would fight to the death to make sure its members don’t lose their jobs but they are happy to sell them out to their mates in the Labor Party who have completely committed to the climate change program.
The embrace of these economically destructive policies won’t be reversed unless the people make their voices heard. Vote in politicians who will question the climate change faith and question leaders who want to make the cost of everything more expensive. We are living in a world of abundant resources, we need to stop this attack on industry, development and economic progress by regressive green ideologues.
Tim Wilms is a guest writer for LibertyWorks. This article also appears on Tim’s blog The Unshackled.