NSW Government reclaims responsibility for Bayswater and Liddell power station future plans

Upgrade: Bayswater power station near Muswellbrook. The NSW Government has welcomed a $200 million upgrade only a year after distancing itself from Bayswater and Liddell power stations following a $1.5 billion sale.
Upgrade: Bayswater power station near Muswellbrook. The NSW Government has welcomed a $200 million upgrade only a year after distancing itself from Bayswater and Liddell power stations following a $1.5 billion sale.

THE NSW Government will assess a proposed $200 million upgrade of Bayswater power station only a year after it was slammed for “washing its hands” of responsibility for Bayswater and Liddell power station closure details following a $1.5 billion sale.

AGL is yet to formally apply to the Department of Planning for the upgrade which will boost Bayswater capacity by 100 megawatts and complement a suite of renewable energy measures to replace power lost when it closes Liddell power station in 2022.

AGL expects work to replace the original 1980-era turbines with modern turbine technology to start in February, 2019 and be completed in time for the Liddell closure. The upgrade will generate 90 jobs and the modernised turbines will provide power to up to 100,000 homes.

AGL Macquarie general manager Kate Coates said the extra power would not require additional coal and would not produce additional emissions. 

A Department of Planning spokesperson said the proposal was a state significant project requiring a detailed merit assessment including an environmental impact statement (EIS). AGL is yet to formally request the Secretary of the Department of Planning for an outline of the EIS requirements. 

In a statement on Wednesday to announce the upgrade AGL said the department would assess the project. The department’s involvement comes only a year after Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush told a Senate inquiry the NSW Government had washed its hands of the Muswellbrook power stations after selling them for $1.5 billion and leaving responsibility for their closure with the council.

When the Newcastle Herald contacted the Department of Planning in February, 2017 it confirmed it had “no role in regulating the current activities on site”, and referred questions about Liddell’s decommissioning to Muswellbrook Council. The council was the consent authority for both power stations. Liddell was approved in 1965 and Bayswater in 1980. Bayswater is scheduled to close in 2035.

Mr Rush told the Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations that the government’s failure to impose new and modernised conditions when it sold Liddell and Bayswater power stations meant that “from a planning point of view AGL can administer the closures as it sees fit”.

Energy minister Don Harwin said the NSW Government welcomed new investment in electricity generation. The Bayswater upgrade would “play an important role in our energy security” along with AGL’s renewable energy mix.