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Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon backs Prime Minister's gas plant announcement for the Hunter Valley


Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon has backed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's gas plant announcement for the Hunter Valley. 

The Prime Minister is making a pre-budget speech in Newcastle where he is expected to outline a seven-month deadline for the private sector to replace the dispatchable energy lost in 2023 when the Liddell Power Station at Muswellbrook closes.

The big part of that will be his backing for a gas plant to be built at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter should the private sector fail to lock in enough power to cover the grid when the power station closes.

Hunter MP and Shadow Minister for Resources Joel Fitzgibbon is backing the announcement.

"For three years Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson and I have been working with industry to build new generation capacity in the Hunter and to deliver more affordable gas to support our region and to create jobs."

"Pumped-hydro, gas-fired generators and battery storage will stabilise our electricity grid, create jobs, support our manufacturing sector, and maintain the region’s status as the powerhouse of NSW.  A new gas pipeline from Queensland can deliver more affordable gas for industry and households alike."

"Since 2017 the Turnbull and Morrison Governments have been running interference on our aspirations for the Hunter by unrealistically talking about extending the life of the 50-year-old Liddell plant.  This was never feasible and was no more than a political play which ran interference on the investment decisions of AGL in particular."

"Meryl Swanson and I want two gas-fired generators in the Hunter and hopefully AGL will deliver one for Tomago and Snowy Hydro will deliver one for Kurri Kurri.  If supported, the new gas pipeline will be a big boost for the Hunter’s economy," said Joel Fitzgibbon.

"The Hunter Region has long boasted more than 8,000 megawatt hours of generation capacity.  As our coal-fired plants come to the end of their economic and physical lives, the Hunter should be the natural home to gas-generators, pumped-hydro, battery storage, and renewable forms of energy."

The Government is giving the private sector until the end of April 2021 to reach final investment decisions on 1000 MW of dispatchable capacity, with a commitment for generation in time for summer 2023-24.

However, if, by the end of April 2021, the private sector has not delivered on the target, the Government will take necessary steps to ensure the required dispatchable capacity is built.

To this end, Snowy Hydro Limited is developing options to build a gas generator in the Hunter Valley at Kurri Kurri should the market not deliver what consumers need.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said that since 2010, investment in dispatchable capacity had slowed to a trickle, with only around 1.6 GW of new dispatchable capacity connected in the national electricity market.

“The Government has always been clear – we need to see life extension or like-for-like replacement of Liddell,” Minister Taylor said.

“Over the last decade, the private sector has not built a single new reliable power plant in NSW.

“And in the five years since the closure of Liddell was first announced, the private sector has only committed to a single dispatchable generation expansion – a 100MW addition to the existing Bayswater plant. This falls far short of what is required.

“The Government expects industry to step up and deliver the new dispatchable capacity required to ensure a reliable and affordable energy system. 

“If industry steps up, we’ll step back.”