Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has teamed up with international fund manager Brookfield to launch an audacious takeover bid for Australian energy giant AGL with the intention of setting stronger emissions-reduction targets and forcing the early closures of its remaining coal-fired power stations.
AGL is the nation’s largest and oldest energy utility and its power stations are Australia’s largest source of planet-heating greenhouses gases, accounting for about 8 per cent of national emissions.
If successful, Brookfield and Mr Cannon-Brookes, Australia’s third-richest person, would spend $10 billion above the purchase price of AGL to get coal out of its operations by as early as 2030, 15 years earlier than its current forecasts.
WWF’s Australia energy transition manager, Nicky Ison, described the proposal as “potentially game-changing for the Australian energy transition”.
However, the Morrison government last week condemned as “bitterly disappointing” a decision by rival energy company, Origin, to get out of coal early by closing the Eraring power station seven years early, in 2025. The government warned that could increase power prices, a claim questioned by Kerry Schott, a former chair of the Commonwealth’s Energy Security Board, who said Eraring’s closure could be managed without causing price spikes.