“It’s a challenge, but its been planned for,” said state’s new Energy Minister on Liddell

The state’s new Energy Minister Penny Sharpe, says all options are on the table with regard to the imminent closure of the Eraring Power Station at Lake Macquarie.

Origin is closing the coal-fired power station in 2025, seven years ahead of schedule.

The operator has been under pressure to leave the power station open longer and the previous government was considering buying the asset so they could control it’s closure.

Speaking on the state of energy in NSW yesterday Penny Sharpe, also the Minister for Climate Change, the Environment and Heritage, said their first priority is making sure the lights stay on.

“As the incoming minister I’ve been briefed so far on the challenges ahead and I don’t want to understate what they are. We need to make sure renewable energy is coming online as fast as it possibly can, it will become the most reliable and the most secure into the future and it is also the cheapest way that we can transition.

“At the same time we do have base load requirements that we need so households and businesses in particular can continue to stay connected to the grid and continue to hopefully not pay very high prices.

“The issue here with Eraring is that we need to make sure that the lights stay on in NSW, that’s my number one job and the job of the Minns Labor Government.

“We’ve said that all options are on the table as we make this transition so we’re not saying that we’re going to be closing it down in 2025, we’ll be working with the operator and working very hard over the next couple of years to make sure that the battery storage is there, that the firming technology is in place and that we make sure energy security continues regardless of whether its renewables or other base loads,” Penny Sharpe said.

AGL’s Liddell Power Station at Muswellbrook is closing in 18 days and there has been concern it will cause problems for the energy grid as it contributes about 10 per cent of the state’s energy needs.

“The closure of Liddell does make it harder but we have known for seven years that this was coming, the market has made some adjustments knowing that but the challenge is real. We have to make sure that as base load coal-fired power is coming out that we’ve got enough replaceable energy and dispatchable power going into the grid,” Penny Sharpe said.

“Based on the advice that I’ve got, it makes it a challenge but it has been planned for. The real issue here is what happens in the next three to five years and making sure we get as much renewables into the ground as quickly as possible, that we have the firming and storage technology in place so when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine we can get energy to households and into businesses.

“The advice that I have about Liddell is yes the grid can cope, yes it is more challenging, but this has been a planned closure for more than seven years so its not a surprise,” she said.