Latrobe Valley transition powering ahead

24 March 2022 Hearings and transcripts

The Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee recently travelled to Gippsland as part of its inquiry into the closure of the Hazelwood and Yallourn Power Stations.

The Committee is looking at how the closure of Hazelwood in 2017 affected the Latrobe Valley and what lessons can be learnt for when Yallourn shuts down in 2028.

The Committee held public hearings on Wednesday 2 March and Thursday 3 March.

It heard from a wide range of witnesses involved in the local community, including the Latrobe Valley Authority – the body set up by the Victorian Government to coordinate the transition away from coal-fired power – local residents and the Committee for Gippsland.

Close to $30 billion worth of projects, mainly in renewable energy, have been proposed for Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.

Industry witnesses also provided valuable evidence. These included Japanese energy company J-Power, which is investing in extracting hydrogen from coal, and Star of the South, Australia’s first offshore wind project being built in Bass Strait.

The Committee’s final witnesses were the three energy companies in the region: Energy Australia (Yallourn); Engie (Hazelwood); and AGL (Loy Yang, the final coal-fired power station currently due for closure in 2045).

The Committee concluded its trip to the region with site visits to Hazelwood and Yallourn.

At Hazelwood, the Committee was shown around the 4,000 ha site to see the decommissioning and rehabilitation work already completed, as well as the preparatory work underway for the 150 MW Hazelwood Battery Energy Storage System (the ‘big battery’), due to be completed by the end of this year.

At Yallourn, the Committee learnt about what is required for the ongoing operation and maintenance of one of the world’s oldest power stations, which provides just under one-quarter of Victoria’s electricity.

Work is also underway getting ready for the station’s closure in 2028, including helping workers transition to new careers in renewable energy or related fields.