AGL Energy rules out buying Anglesea power station

Major Australian energy company AGL Energy has ruled out buying Anglesea’s brown-coal power station, citing its negative effects upon the health and wellbeing of local residents.

Alcoa announced plans to sell the mining lease and power station at Anglesea in February following its decision to close the Port Henry aluminium smelter. The Anglesea community has urged Alcoa to decommission the power station and rehabilitate the mine site, highlighting the health and environmental damage caused by the ongoing operation of the 53-year-old facility.

One of Australia’s oldest energy companies, AGL Energy invests and operates in power generation, gas production and energy retailing. AGL Energy Managing Director, Michael Fraser, said that while it was company policy not to comment on speculation about potential transactions, he confirmed that it was not AGL’s intention to buy the Anglesea coal mine or power station.

“We are mindful of effects on local communities on any investment decisions we make,” Mr Fraser said. “We would only commit to buying an asset if we were satisfied that it could be operated safely and reliably and without compromising the health and wellbeing of employees and local residents.”

The Anglesea coal mine and power station were established by Alcoa in 1961 for the express purpose of supplying electricity to its Point Henry aluminium smelter, which consumes approximately 6% of Victoria’s electricity production.

Three months before Alcoa announced its intention to close the smelter in Geelong, it applied to the Essential Services Commission to supply electricity from Anglesea directly to the grid.

Last month, a report commissioned by the Energy Supply Association warned that Australia’s energy market was “chronically oversupplied”, while Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told ABC Radio on April 26 that Australia was “facing an enormous challenge in terms of an excess generating capacity in electricity” and that “to be adding large quantities of generation into that situation has to be questioned”.

Surf Coast Air Action spokesperson, Dr Jacinta Morahan, said there was no longer any justification for the continued operation of this dangerous and polluting brown-coal power station.

“There is a groundswell of concern in Anglesea and the Surf Coast about the continued operation of an out of date and dangerously polluting coal mine and coal fired power station within a kilometre of our primary school and homes,” Dr Morahan said. “82% of Anglesea residents surveyed about the coal mine and power station have said they want it shut down, with only 8% in favour of continued operation. Given that it no longer supports jobs at Point Henry, the electricity is not needed, we believe that the health and environmental damage that this power station causes can no longer be justified. AGL has ruled itself out of buying Alcoa’s old and polluting coal mine and power station in acknowledgment of the health and well being of local residents and workers. We call on other electricity generators and retailers to act responsibly and do the same”