Media Release in Response to LV Express article Monday 24th Nov. 2014

In response to the article, I as the candidate would like to make the following points:

  • The transition from the dependence on coal use in the Latrobe Valley is going to be a difficult task and requires a long-term view.
  • However, it needs to happen as soon as we can make the change, because of climate change and so that further environmental destruction is avoided.
  • The benefits to the area will be better health, better amenity because of cleaner air and far less acid rain. Morwell will be a more desirable place to live and house prices will eventually rise.
  • A stop to the mercury build up in the environment culminating in the Gippsland Lakes
  • The larger the open-cuts become, the greater the economic costs in terms of fixing the environmental damage, including catastrophic failures such as the road slippage, two river incursions and coal mine fires. So limiting their expanse is desirable economically as we cannot guarantee that these disasters will not happen in the future.

While jobs will obviously be lost, the Greens plan is to attract new industries to the Valley to make use of the well-spring of skilled labour here. By stopping the expansion of the open-cuts, jobs will be saved in the farming and forestry sector.

  • We are determined to avoid a Kennett type smashing of the area where 11,000 jobs became 3000 in less than a decade.
  • Even allowing for the proposal as written – 540 direct jobs at Hazelwood, together with job losses from Yallourn, might see about 600 direct jobs go within 2 years.
  • This is about one tenth the losses of the Kennett Privatisations.
  • There will be jobs created in this process, in decommissioning Hazelwood and beginning proper rehabilitation of the mine to a safe state.
  • With an accompanying increase of the VRET, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, to at least 20% of renewable energy in Victoria by 2020 and higher targets for the future, the growth of renewable energies, especially wind and large scale solar will start to roll out again, after being in decline since the election of the Baillieu/Napthine Government 4 years ago.
  • Jobs in wind tower and nacelle production; mounts, electronic control systems and inverter production for PV solar power stations and many other components for renewable energy can be manufactured here in the Valley.
  • We should be looking at rolling out cutting edge technologies such as Eureka’s Future, reverse cycle hot water units and products such as quick-charge units for electric vehicles that could be the bases for potential export markets.
  • Hydrogen could be produced in fuel cells from cheap excess renewable energy and used for many purposes, including generating peak demand electricity
  • Methane from the water factory and other sewage treatment works can be captured and stored to produce electricity in peak demand times.
  • Feasibility studies could be conducted to see if a pumped hydro scheme could be created from the fall into the Morwell open cut from Hazelwood Pondage. The construction of a scheme like this would employ hundreds of workers to keep electricity generation here in the Valley for use in peak times.
  • Providing replacement industries and jobs is to be a prime consideration of any contract for closure.

Some other notes:

  • The owners, GDF Suez have previously stated publicly that they would still be operating till 2034, which apparently is when they would have run out of coal and will have to apply for a further allocation.
  • This seems to be an ambit claim as they must be aware that pressure to fight climate change is mounting world wide, especially in the light of the agreement between Presidents of the USA and China.
  • This should be seen in the light of their negotiating position around closure and the rehabilitation of the mine.
  • Brown coal is the most carbon intensive of all grades of coal, with Hazelwood producing about 1.5 tonnes CO2 for every MWh of electricity.
  • This is about 16 million tonnes of CO2 per year from Hazelwood.
  • Yallourn produces slightly less than this per MWh at 1.4 MWh, compared to black coal, which produces about 0.9 – 1 tonne per MWh.



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