In March, EnergyAustralia announced it was bringing forward the closure of the Yallourn Power Station by four years. In mapping out the transition, they are determined to achieve the best possible outcomes for the community, its employees and the energy market as a whole.
Energy Australia recently announced that after decades of faithful service, Yallourn Power Station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley would be retiring in mid-2028 instead of the previously planned 2032.
Energy Executive Liz Westcott said she hopes that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding Yallourn’s retirement date has been removed, and in its place, the energy market, local community, and Yallourn workforce have been provided much- needed clarity.
“The transition to a clean energy future in Australia matters. We believe the best way for it to succeed is with a good plan that balances a lot of things. Simply, what we are trying to achieve is too important to leave to chance.
“By supporting people, the Latrobe Valley, and locking in new energy storage, we hope to give the communities we serve confidence in the smoothest transition possible,” Liz said.
EnergyAustralia has committed to a multimillion-dollar support package for Yallourn Power Station and mine workers to help them plan, reskill or retrain.
“Yallourn’s retirement will mean different things to different people. It’s our job to ensure the approach is a respectful and collaborative one to meet individual needs. With a clear timeframe to work to, we can support our people and help them prepare for the next stage in their careers,” Liz said.
“Our support package will include training and skills development, career planning, assistance for redeployment, and financial counselling. We want Yallourn workers to have a say in how this support is delivered and will now begin a process to understand individual needs.”
Liz said that in the lead up to Yallourn’s retirement seven years from now, EnergyAustralia will be ensuring the approach delivers on the high standards expected by the local community.
“It’s always our goal to be a good neighbour for those living near where our assets are based. At Yallourn, we will be present and available to the local community. We’ve held forums and plan on smaller face-to-face sessions so that different interest groups and locals are clear on our plans.
“Arguably most important, we will also be working with the surrounding local communities and other stakeholders to better understand and manage potential closure impacts.
“Our commitment to the social development of the Latrobe Valley region remains the same, including our community grant and sponsorship programs. Our power station maintenance programs also continue, which draw in local suppliers and additional workers each year.”
A changing of the guard
Liz said that through these efforts, big and small, EnergyAustralia is determined to demonstrate that coal-fired power can exit the market in a way that supports people and ensures customers continue to receive reliable energy.
“With Yallourn coming out of the system, it’s only right something must enter to maintain system security and reliability.
“EnergyAustralia has committed to building a utility-scale battery storage facility that will provide an economic boost for the Gippsland region. Complemented by other technologies, the project will help to secure Victoria’s energy supply and enable more renewables to enter the system,” she said.
Co-located with EnergyAustralia’s Jeeralang gas-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, the new battery facility will be 350 megawatts and provide energy for up to four hours at a time.
The Jeeralang battery is scheduled to be commissioned before the end of 2026, well in advance of the Yallourn Power Station’s closure. It will be larger than any battery operating in the world today. Liz said the advantages of batteries in the formation of a modern energy system are immense.
“Batteries store electricity at times when lots of renewable energy is being produced. They’re also fast response – the quick release of stored energy during periods of high demand helps maintain supply and keep costs down for customers.”
Liz said that by providing ample notice ahead of Yallourn’s retirement date in mid-2028, and introducing new battery storage, EnergyAustralia is making good on its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“In closing Yallourn, we will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 per cent, relative to today. To put that in context, Yallourn’s closure will remove around 13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide Scope 1 emissions per year.”
Liz said that EnergyAustralia will be harnessing the company’s history, and the expertise of its workforce, to repower Victoria.
“For more than a century Victoria’s Latrobe Valley has generated electricity to illuminate, warm, cool and power millions of homes and businesses across the state and the country.
“The energy system is changing and it’s our responsibility to lead the transition to cleaner energy in a way that does not leave the workforce or the community behind. At the same time, we want to maintain the same reliable and affordable access to energy for everyone.
“The challenge to getting this right has always been planning; getting the right balance and mix for a modern energy system – in the most cost-effective manner.
“By committing to the Jeeralang battery, we are delivering clarity with yet another important puzzle piece. And with seven years’ notice in advance of Yallourn’s retirement, the market is also given a clearer picture so they too can make the commitments required.
“Success years from now sees each home and businesses in Australia having access to energy that is reliable, affordable, and above all, clean. At EnergyAustralia we will continue playing our important role,” Liz said.