Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has again expressed disappointment about AGL’s refusal to sell the Liddell power station to Alinta. In a Sky News interview, he restated that Government owned power is not on the cards.
To recap: Alinta had offered to buy the Liddell plant and keep it open beyond its current closure date of 2022. The offer included $250 million in cash up-front. However, AGL insists it wants to repurpose the plant’s assets in its other facilities.
Meanwhile, former PM Tony Abbott said the Federal Government should acquire the plant and offer it for sale to Alinta.
Government owned power: Buying plant ‘not consistent with Liberal values’
However, in the interview, Frydenberg said this is a commercial negotiation, and compulsorily acquiring the plant would be inconsistent with Liberal Party values.
He also said consumers would be better off if AGL accepted the offer, in terms of reliability and reduced prices. However, he added that the government can guarantee it will “leave no dispatchability shortfall in the market”.
This, the Minister says, will be down to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and “other steps”. It’s not clear what these steps will be – but it appears they will be left largely up to the states. It may however include offering incentives to encourage other commercial players to come on board.
Frydenberg also said the government wants AGL to financially commit to the replacement of the Liddell plant.
Competition and transparency under review
During the interview the Minister alluded to a lack of transparency in the energy sector market. This is largely due to some power generators also being retailers, known as ‘gentailers’. Essentially, these companies sell electricity to themselves.
Frydenberg said the government is reviewing competition in the sector. It is also pushing for greater transparency, and for operators to pass on lower wholesales costs to consumers.
While the Minister referred to the importance of energy security and the NEG, he made little mention of renewable energy. Consumers can however gain a measure of independence from the grid and help shore up their energy supply by installing solar panels.
Going a step further by installing a solar battery such as the Tesla Powerwall 2 also enables consumers to store solar power for later use, thereby further increasing energy security and reliability in homes and businesses.