AGL’s recent published criticism of solar feed in tariffs was shortly followed by news related to its continued pursuit of gas and coal fired electricity generation.
In AGL’s report taking aim at Queensland’s highly popular solar feed in tariff initiative, it refers to the scheme as “regressive taxation” and calls into question small-scale solar’s merit order effect.
RenewEconomy’s Warwick Johnston didn’t mince words about the report, stating it “continues to distort the truth about Australian solar power by masquerading lobbying activity as a formal academic paper”.
That power generators in Australia might be quivering in their boots at the prospect of solar households being suitably rewarded for exporting the surplus electricity they generate to the mains grid isn’t anything new, nor would it be unique to AGL.
In an article published prior to the release of AGL’s paper, RenewEcononomy’s Giles Parkinson’s “Why Generators Are Terrified Of Solar” explains it – uptake of residential grid connected rooftop solar arrays helps reduce the wholesale price of electricity.
While AGL apparently looks down its nose at what some in the solar sector would consider a fair price for solar electricity generated by households and although it has significant wind power assets; it also seems to be pursuing fossil fuel based power generation with great gusto.
Among its plans are the acquisition of the remainder of Victoria’s Loy Yang A power station and adjacent coal mine. However, that hasn’t been smooth sailing. On April 4, the Australian competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) suspended the clearance process until it receives further information from AGL.
Loy Yang A has four generating units with a combined capacity of 2,200 megawatts. The power station burns brown coal – an emissions intensive form of the fossil fuel creating between 1.1 and 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt hour of electricity. Regardless, AGL chief executive Michael Fraser, who is also Chairman of the Clean Energy Council (CEC), believes Loy Yang A will be an essential asset for Victoria for many years to come. .
According to a Reuters report, AGL believes that thanks to cheap brown coal and a billion dollars in free carbon permits, Loy Yang A will continue to be one of the lowest cost generators in Australia.
Brown coal’s future in Victoria looks assured after the state’s Government reneged on election commitments of a 20% carbon emission reduction target and capping emissions from new coal fired power stations. The Baillieu government is also reportedly preparing a campaign to promote development of Victoria’s brown coal reserves.
On April 5, AGL also confirmed the Victorian State Government had approved the development of a $600 million gas-fired power station at Tarrone, north of Port Fairy. A number of local residents opposed the station, stating the emissions would contaminate water tanks, cattle water troughs and pastures and create noise of up to 100 decibels when the turbines are started.