‘ESB coal handouts’ show Morrison Government prioritises coal over people
SYDNEY, Aug 26 2021 - A Federal Government plan to use public funds to pay coal power stations to keep operating regardless of whether they produce electricity shows that the Morrison Government’s priority for support is coal companies, rather than people, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
After an intense lobbying campaign from the owners of coal burning power stations and Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the Energy Security Board (ESB) has put forward a proposal to create a so-called capacity market that would pay coal and gas generators to be available to dispatch electricity if needed. 
“The proposed “capacity market” Energy Security Board changes will see the Morrison Government blowing billions in handouts for polluting, failing coal companies to keep operating regardless of whether they’re contributing to our electricity system. While millions of Australians are doing it tough in lockdown, Morrison is prioritising welfare for wealthy coal companies,” said Glenn Walker, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
“This plan will see public funds wasted to increase pollution and send energy prices soaring, while slowing the rollout of clean energy like wind and solar, which are the cheapest forms of energy generation in Australia.”
“Coal bludgers like AGL, Australia’s biggest climate polluter, have become used to sweetheart deals from Coalition governments, but this type of corporate welfare has reached new heights with this absurd proposal to pay ageing coal power stations like AGL’s Bayswater and Loy Yang simply to exist.”
AGL, Australia’s biggest coal-burning electricity producer, recently announced losses of $2.06 billion, with its biggest customer, the Tomago Aluminium Smelter, announcing it will shift to mostly renewable power once its contract with AGL ends in 2028.
“Continuing to pump out pollution while waiting for government handouts is not a sustainable business model. AGL shareholders should be demanding to know how the company plans to manage its transition to renewables,” said Walker.
“The Federal Government should be incentivising coal companies like AGL to switch to cheaper, cleaner renewables, and to invest in battery storage solutions that will tackle the climate crisis and drive down electricity prices for consumers.”
An eighteen-year-old student striker has bought shares in energy giant AGL and nominated himself as a director, saying that he wants to transform AGL from Australia’s biggest climate polluter to a renewable energy powerhouse.
Ashjayeen Sharif, a first-year university student from Melbourne, is in the running for a directors role at AGL, to be voted on in AGL’s upcoming Annual General Meeting in September. His nomination is the first time in Australia that a climate activist has run for a leadership position at a major energy, fossil fuel or mining company.
More information here
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan
0424 295 422