PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull and AGL chief Andy Vesey will meet on Monday after a week of conflicting comments about the future of Liddell power station.
AGL confirmed the meeting on Friday but refused to comment further.
“A meeting will be held with Andy and the PM on Monday. We understand the importance of this issue and it’s right the government is focused on it,” a spokesperson said.
“This is the only comment we can make at this stage.”
The meeting follows a series of public statements by Mr Turnbull this week about extending the life of Liddell until at least 2027, despite AGL’s plan to close the plant in 2022, followed by suggestions it could be sold to another buyer.
Mr Turnbull’s comments were contradicted by AGL in tweets by Mr Vesey confirming “We’re getting out of coal”, and a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange saying AGL had made no commitment to selling Liddell.
AGL’s statements were described as “snubs” to the prime minister, while former federal resources minister Matt Canavan described the company as “the biggest hypocrite walking around Australia” for saying it wanted to get out of coal.
AGL data shows Liddell power station has operated at roughly half its 2000-megawatt capacity for the past four years, prompting Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon to reject extending the power station’s life.
“It’s 45 years old. It’s clapped out. It’s now the most inefficient and dirtiest power generation in the country,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
At an end of financial year presentation in August Mr Vesey acknowledged the “tension” between governments and the energy industry until policy settings, including a clean energy target, prompt new investment and new energy supply.
“Until new investment winds up in new supply we will continue to see this tension between regulatory and government desire to intervene and what the industry will do,” Mr Vesey said.
Extending the life of a power station was “not a free option”.
“There is significant capital that would be required should we consider extending it. The fact of the matter is we’re not,” Mr Vesey said.
“If you’re thinking about extending the life of a plant like that, the level of investment would be significant. And the question we have to ask if we’re going to make a significant investment in generation, would we do it in an older plant which is less reliable with higher maintenance costs?
“Or should we be making that investment in new technology which aligns with what we believe is the future, which will be a greater value long term to our shareholders and customers?
“We’ll we’ve chosen the second and we are still of that view.”