“Hazelwood shutdown near” read the front page of The Age on Saturday, as the paper revealed that French energy giant ENGIE looked likely to close the coal-fired power plant and mine by April next year. Although the closure of the power plant is not a new idea, and statements by recently appointed CEO of ENGIE Isabelle Kocher have made it clear that the company was looking to move away from running Hazelwood, the story seems to have caught the authorities by surprise, with Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio telling the media on Saturday: “I heard about the speculation last night. I contacted the senior management of the company late yesterday and their information was that they’d made no decision.” D’Ambrosio travelled to the Latrobe Valley on Saturday to talk to locals, but Ms Tips hears that it wasn’t just the state government taken by surprise. Latrobe City Council spent Saturday in crisis meetings over the news that the plant would be closed much sooner than expected. While the company and the Victorian government keep assuring locals that no decision has been made, the writing is on the wall that the plant’s days are numbered. The reactions of both the government and the council look to an outside observer as if these governing bodies didn’t have a plan in place already, which is just another worry to add to the list for the people of the Valley.
Mine closure surprise
Why were multiple levels of government acting like they were shocked by news that Hazelwood could close within a year? This isn't unprecedented.