The Western Australian Government will retire two of four operating units at Synergy’s Muja Power Station from October 2022.
The State Government has stated financial reasons for doing so, and that keeping the two units operating at Muja C beyond these dates would cost Western Australian taxpayers in excess of an additional $350 million.
The two Muja D units, Collie Power Station and Bluewaters, will continue to operate. The retirement of Muja C will ensure Muja D units operate more frequently, increasing their stability and long term viability.
Increasing levels of residential rooftop solar power have reduced the demand for traditional coal-fired baseload power generation in the South West Interconnected System.
Synergy’s Muja Power Station is the oldest power station in WA, and the generation output for units 5 & 6 within Muja C continues to decline – the units are only being used around 35 per cent of the time.
The reduced demand means the 40 year-old units are not being deployed as designed. Closing the two C units will allow the two D units to work more often, more efficiently and more cost-effectively.
The high operating costs of Muja C, plus increased maintenance requirements due to the additional cycling of the plant, will force power prices up if it remains open.
It is expected around 30 workers will be affected by the closure of the first Muja C Unit 5 on October 1, 2022. The closure of this unit is expected to have minimal impact on coal production.
A further 40-50 workers will be potentially impacted by the Muja C Unit 6 closing on October 1, 2024.
Synergy has engaged a dedicated Workforce Transition Manager to talk to workers one-on-one about their individual needs.
Workforce transition engagements include assessment of skills, redeployment, upskilling, financial planning support, assistance with job search, training programs and preparation for retirement.
The State Government has appointed a specialist coal advisory team to work with all stakeholders to ensure the stability of the Collie basin.
Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “It no longer makes sense to keep the Muja C units operational. They are expensive to run, and demand for electricity from the units is declining dramatically.
“Keeping them open will lead to higher power bills for Western Australians and put our stable electricity supply at risk.”
WA Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said,”It is well-recognised that a major transformation is underway in the Western Australian energy sector, as the take up of renewable energy and storage technologies increases.
“As a Government, we need to carefully manage this change to keep energy prices down and deliver reliable electricity to Western Australians.
“Synergy will continue to require coal from Collie, and electricity will continue to be generated from Collie coal for many years to come.”