In 1996, when International Power was sufficiently foolish to pay $2.35billion for Australia’s most polluting power station, they clearly hadn’t been reading the news. It was two years after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into force, and six years after the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It should have been clear that they were buying a major liability.

That they (and other power stations) have managed to continue to pollute without consequence for the subsequent fourteen years is one of the great failings of our democratic process.

Not content with their success at avoiding responsibility to date, International Power remain at the forefront of industry attempts to delay action on climate change. The recent leak of a confidential submission to the Department of Climate Change shows that they are pushing hard against energy efficiency legislation.

They are particularly concerned about changes to the National Electricity Market (NEM) which might encourage, or, heaven forbid, force energy efficiency improvements. The submission states:

“As a wholesale market the NEM should neither impede nor force the uptake of energy efficiency.”

Really? So if we accept (as International Power claim they do) that energy efficiency is an important public policy objective to meet greenhouse reduction targets, why on earth would it be inappropriate to change the rules of the National Electricity Market to encourage energy efficiency?

Perhaps there is an arcane ideological argument that the market must remain pure – forgetting for a moment that all markets have rules that are consciously constructed (albeit by imperfect humans) to achieve particular ends.

Their submission goes on…“It needs to be noted that energy efficiency is not directly related to emissions intensity. Energy efficiency is about how energy is used, not about how it is produced.

Really? Brilliant. By this logic, if I decide to burn brown coal in my backyard in a homemade boiler and run steam onto a pelton wheel attached to an old car alternator in order to power my ultra efficient LED lights – then my overall operation would demonstrate best practice “efficiency”. Nice. I bet their production meetings are fun.

But the real position of International Power, as they clearly state is that “IPRA rejects any proposal to introduce climate change policy, under the guise of energy efficiency measures, which has the potential to destroy the value of existing investments in the generator sector.”

In other words, they are a bunch of parasitic rentseekers that are quite happy to undermine climate policies in order to avoid the economic implications of their stupid decision to buy Hazelwood in 1996.

It is time that Hazelwood was closed down and replaced.  Environment Victoria have developed a plan for how it can happen, now it is time for politicians to stand up to the rent-seeking of International Power and make it happen.