EnergyAustralia, one of the country’s energy retailers, called for a timely resolution to ongoing uncertainty about coal supply to the company’s Mt Piper power station, near Lithgow in New South Wales.
Mt Piper, the state’s newest and most efficient coal-fired power station, has total generation capacity of 1400 megawatts (MW), enough energy to meet the annual electricity needs of some 1.2 million homes and supply up to 15 per cent of New South Wales’ electricity demand.
In August 2017 planning consent for the Springvale mine, the only source of coal supply for Mt Piper, was challenged successfully in the New South Wales Court of Appeal. The action related to the quality of water discharged from the mine, owned by Centennial Coal.
EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said: “EnergyAustralia and Centennial Coal have a water treatment project ready to go that fixes the problem identified in the legal challenge. That project is shovel ready. It will mean no water is discharged from the mine into river systems, which is a good outcome.
“The project requires significant investment but right now it’s in peril while the mine planning consents are unresolved,” she said.
Ms Tanna said securing supply for the power station, which entered service in 1992 with a 50-year operating life, had been challenging due to a demanding planning process. After spending five years considering all impacts on the environment, the community and the economy, the Springvale mine was approved – twice, in fact.
Ms Tanna called for a swift resolution that provides certainty for households, businesses, the local community and the workers who depend upon the Mt Piper power station and the Springvale mine for their livelihoods.
“It’s time for common sense to prevail. With a secure source of coal supply, Mt Piper can move from rationing electricity sales to selling all its capacity, which can only help ease the pressure on electricity prices,” she said.
“As we head into summer, households and businesses want to know the lights will stay on and that they won’t be asked to bear even higher electricity prices than they already do. It will take real political courage and leadership to find a timely resolution,” Ms Tanna said.