Coal town Mayor backs Liddell closure

Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson is visiting Canberra to call on politicians to stop undermining certainty with coal closures.

Following Port Augusta’s own experience of coal closure and its rapid transition to a renewable energy hub, Mayor Sam Johnson welcomes AGL’s decision to reject Alinta’s offer to buy Liddell power station.

In 2015 Alinta Energy closed Port Augusta’s largest employer, Northern Power Station, with less than one year notice and with no plan or investment in a replacement.

After a period of hardship, Port Augusta has since become Australia’s leading renewable energy hub, attracting several major power projects, including: Bungala, Australia’s largest solar plant; Aurora, Australia’s first solar thermal power plant; 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm; Sundrop Farms, a world-leading agricultural project with solar thermal supplying electricity, heat and power to desalinate sea water.

Mayor Johnson believes sufficient notice, planning and certainty is essential to coal closures.

“The communities at the coal face get nothing from the political culture wars about coal closure,” says Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson.

“The Liddell closure plan is one that the people of Port Augusta could only dream of. AGL has provided a transition plan and a guarantee of no redundancies to its employees.

“Advocating for the prolonged future of coal means continued pressure on government funded assistance.

“Recall early 2015, Alinta gave the people of Port Augusta a promise they would be there until at least 2025. Three months later they announced they would close Northern Power Station in nine months time. Why would we want to risk this again?

“We are incredulous that Alinta could have been put in charge of the Liddell closure given their failure to properly remediate the Northern Power Station site which has become a major health risk to Port Augusta’s residents.

“We must learn from the experiences in Port Augusta and hope that our national politicians ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.”

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