AGL forges ahead of Morrison government on Liddell coal plant shutdown

Australia's largest energy generator, AGL, has announced the first concrete steps in shutting down its Liddell coal-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley, pre-empting the findings of a government taskforce examining options including extending the plant's operating life.

Planning documents lodged last week with the NSW government reveal AGL is planning to "decouple" Liddell from another coal station at Bayswater. It will remove transmission lines between the two so Bayswater can function as a standalone plant.

AGL's Hunter Valley site.

AGL's Hunter Valley site.CREDIT:PETER MORRIS

In 2015, AGL announced plans to shut Liddell which together with Bayswater supplies 35 per cent of NSW's energy demand. It originally intended to shut the plant in 2022, but extended its operation until 2023 after pressure from the federal government.

The Morrison government commissioned a taskforce, including NSW government representatives, which is considering options including how to extend Liddell's operating life or replace it with "like-for-like" capacity.

When the taskforce was formed in August 2019, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said it would report by the end of the year, but the report has not yet been released.

A spokesman for Mr Taylor said the Morrison government was committed to delivering reliable and affordable power and it would release the report "in due course".

"The taskforce has taken the time it needed to carefully complete its commercially sensitive work in consultation with all the relevant parties," the spokesman said.

AGL has said once Liddell is shut in 2023, it will operate Bayswater until 2035 and Loy Yang A in Victoria's Latrobe Valley until 2048.