Labor's Eraring extension - a burning smoke screen to 'keep the lights on'

Today in Parliament, Abigail gave notice of a motion slamming the NSW Government for extending the continuation of the monumentally pollutive and unsafe Eraring coal-fired power station.

Abigail said:

I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move: 

(1) That this House notes that:

  • in July 2013, the NSW Government sold the Eraring coal-fired power station, along with Shoalhaven Hydro power station, to Origin Energy at a reported price of $50 million for both,
  • at the time, the Baird Government claimed that this transaction, which had been combined with the extinguishment of other liabilities the State owed, resulted in a net loss to the State of around $75 million,
  • documents produced pursuant to a call for papers under Standing Order 52 in the Legislative Council revealed that the State had retained significant unquantified liabilities in relation to remediating pre-existing contamination at the Eraring site upon its closure,
  • in 2019, the NSW Government closed Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre following a review that found the Centre was not safe to re-open due to the serious potential risk to clients and staff arising from the potential failure of the Eraring power station’s ash dam wall in the event of major seismic activity,
  • the 2019 NSW Parliament Public Works Committee inquiry into Costs for remediation of sites containing coal ash repositories made a number of findings and recommendations in relation to the environmental and health risks arising from coal ash dams which have not yet been adequately assessed,
  • the Eraring power station was due to close in 2032 but on 17 February 2022 Origin announced that its closure date was being brought forward to August 2025 after negotiations with the then Coalition Government had not resulted in an agreement for any financial support for Origin to continue its operations,
  • on 23 May 2024, the Labor Government announced it had “secured” an agreement with Origin to operate the Eraring power station until August 2027, pledging up to $450m in State funding and exposing the State to further liabilities under various conditions,
  • despite claims that the Labor Government made the agreement to “keep the lights on in New South Wales”, documents produced pursuant to a call for papers under Standing Order 52 in the Legislative Council reveal that the decision to extend Eraring was made due to energy price concerns and not due to energy reliability concerns, 
  • in addition to the pollution that is emitted from the stacks of the Eraring power station and the contamination leeching into ground water and into Lake Macquarie through its coal ash repositories, it is responsible for generating nearly 10 percent of NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions (excluding emissions from land use) and in the 2023 financial year produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 11.86 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, and
  • Origin Energy recorded over $1 billion in profits in the 2022-23 financial year and almost another $1 billion in statutory profit just in the first half of the 2023-24 financial year.

(2) That this House

  • condemns the NSW Labor Government for extending the life of Eraring power station, sentencing the people of the Central Coast to two more years of pollution and contaminants contributing to poor health and a degrading environment, and blaming it on energy reliability when there is no evidence to support that assertion, and
  • calls on the NSW Government to show leadership in the task of transitioning our state’s energy supply to renewables and away from its reliance on coal and gas.

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