Breaking news from the Western Australian government: it is closing coal-burning power plants early, investing billions into renewable energy storage, and investing into attracting new industries and creating new jobs.
We know that the economics of coal-fired powers have been coming under pressure for some time now. It’s been cutting into the viability of coal — and that pressure has been growing.
“We’re standing at a point where to continue business as usual would lead to around $3 billion dollars of losses by the end of the decade. Those losses either have to be covered by taxpayers or would lead to dramatically higher power bills for Western Australians — while still continuing to emit higher levels of carbon emissions,” Western Australia Premier Mar McGowan says. “Either way, it’s simply not sustainable in the long term.”
Western Australia will be retiring all of its government-owned coal-fired power stations by 2030. They will then invest an estimated $3.8 billion by 2030 into a generation of renewables and storage, mostly wind and batteries, to ensure Western Australia has affordable and reliable power into the future.
By giving a long period of notice and investing $547.4 million to support the long-term future of Western Australia’s only coal-producing region — Collie (population 8,000) — the government hopes to minimise the impact of the transition on the town. The plan is to attract new industries to the town, and hence create new jobs.
The package includes $200 million for a Collie Industrial Transition Fund, to attract new industrial projects to the town. It also includes a pipeline of decommissioning works at Muja Power Station and Collie Power Station immediately after each asset closes.
We will be investing $25.9 million expanding training and skills resources in Collie to assist workers transitioning to new roles.
And this builds on the existing $115 million our government has already invested in Collie to diversify and strengthen the town, which is seeing results.
As the world decarbonises, communities that have been traditionally based around fossil fuels shouldn’t be left behind. Well done, Mr McGowan and the Western Australian government. Now, if only the eastern, more populous states could follow your example. It’s what’s right. It’s what’s just.
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