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Eraring: Extension garners plenty of support throughout Hunter

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The extension handed to Eraring Power Station for a further two years has garnered plenty of support over the past 24 hours.

While climate and environmental groups were quick to criticise the decision, politicians, businesses and unions have thrown their backing behind the outcome.

It follows a deal between the NSW Government and Origin Energy, amid concerns about shortfalls in the energy grid, to keep the Lake Macquarie site viable until 19 August 2027.

“The announcement is good news for our energy security,” Hunter MP Dan Repacholi said.

“We’ve always stated that Eraring shouldn’t be open a day later or a day earlier than needed for reliability.

“I look forward to continued negotiations to make sure that jobs of the 1,000 workers at Myuna and Mandalong Collieries are secured as well.”

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes also welcomed the latest revelation.

“This is a wise insurance policy on the government’s behalf,” he said.

“Unfortunately, renewables are not being commissioned fast enough, and the risk of disruption to supply across this period was significant, with potentially catastrophic consequences for some users.

“So, it’s a sensible step to providing comfort for business and the community.

“The timing of when we will achieve our renewable energy future is speculative… and this will hopefully embed some certainty.”

Mr Hawes said getting to net zero was a priority goal for the Hunter.

“However, it won’t be achieved without providing affordable and reliable energy,” he explained.

“There’s no doubt the region is keen to embrace renewables and there are many exciting examples of how business and industry are participating and driving innovation, but these efforts, for several complex reasons including approvals and investment, are long-range.

“With the enormous ambitions in manufacturing and infrastructure that lie ahead in the Hunter, and the state more broadly, our energy demand curve is only going to increase.

“Having blackouts and energy cost blowouts will cripple these initiatives.”

Closing the Lake Macquarie facility, which accounts for about 25% of NSW’s total power needs, would drive up the wholesale cost of electricity and potentially increase the chances of blackouts.

“Keeping Eraring open will give NSW more time to build the renewable energy infrastructure required to account for some of that shortfall, while also expanding the state’s capacity to supply gas,” Mr Hawes said.

“The big pieces of the infrastructure road map are falling short.

“So, energy dependent business and industry would be in the bulls eye should brownouts and blackouts occur.”

Along with Business NSW, Business Hunter is calling on the NSW Government to:

  • Ensure that energy consumers don’t carry the cost of keeping Eraring open in their bills;
  • Remove planning barriers presently hindering the delivery of new energy infrastructure; 
  • Introduce a simple and accessible energy advice program for small businesses to help them reduce their costs and support them to get to net zero; and
  • Ensure that gas supplies are brought online promptly to provide cleaner alternatives to burning coal

Meanwhile, the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) believes Origin Energy must now do the right thing by its employees.

“Extending Eraring’s operations will provide greater certainty for the workforce, who was facing closure in little over a year,” Northern Mining and NSW Energy District president Robin Williams said.

“The skilled workers have been counting down to the 2025 date, with talk swirling around about potential extensions.

“Now they know the timeline they are working towards, they can get on with planning their lives. 

“However, just down the road are a thousand coal miners (at Myuna and Mandalong) whose livelihoods depend on supplying coal to the power station, who don’t know if they have jobs after the end of next month. 

“Since Origin has an agreement in place with the NSW Government underwriting profits, they must negotiate in good faith for an agreement with Centennial to secure coal supply from those mines through to August 2027.” 

MEU delegate and Eraring power station operator Scott King admitted it was a relief to have the life of the power station extended.

“We are still facing closure, but we have three years now instead of one,” he said.

“It’s a welcome reprieve that gives us more time to plan what comes next and see where the jobs of the future could be.”

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