AGL is postponing the full closure of its coal-fired Liddell power station by a year, and also plans to keep its SA Torrens gas plant running for longer to support "system reliability" throughout the summer months.
AGL said on Friday the first unit at Liddell in the NSW Hunter Valley will close in April 2022, but an independent engineering assessment had necessitated the continuation of the remaining three units until April 2023.
AGL had previously indicated that Liddell would close in 2022 after 50 years of operation.
The energy provider also told the Australian Energy Market Operator on Friday it was seeking to delay the closure of the first two units at the Torrens A station in SA by 10 months, to September 2020.
"In both cases, AGL has told AEMO it has been able to confirm a schedule that will help the national energy market cope with the critical summer months," the company said in a release.
AGL shares rose 0.73 per cent to $20.59 in the first 15 minutes of trade after the announcement.
AGL had previously announced a plan to mothball two of the four Torrens units by November 2019, but is seeking permission from the state government to continue to operate over the upcoming summer.
The company said move will help mitigate generation impacts across the system following the outage at Victoria's Loy Yang station in May, and ensure that the new gas-fired Barker Inlet Power Station in SA is operationally stable prior to the Torrens closure.
A third unit at Torrens will be closed in September 2021 and the final unit in September 2022.
AGL said it was continuing to progress a series of projects in NSW including the 100MW Bayswater power station upgrade, as well as a potential 250MW of pumped hydro at Bells Mountain, and a 250MW gas power station at Newcastle.
In SA, the company is investigating the feasibility of a 250MW pumped hydro plant at Kanmantoo.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW on Friday said the delay contravened AGL's own greenhouse gas policy and was deeply disappointing, but laid the blame beyond the company itself.
"AGL's decision to extend the closure date for its Liddell coal-fired power station is a direct consequence of the federal and state government's mismanagement of energy policy," Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said.
"Four more months of operation by three turbines at Liddell will pump two million tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere, contributing further to dangerous climate change.
"We have known about the upcoming Liddell closure since 2015. It hasn't exactly been under the radar. Liddell is NSW's most unreliable and most polluting power station. Relying on it to limp though summer is risky and irresponsible. It was outages at two Liddell units that contributed to NSW running out of electricity in February 2017."
Hunter MP and federal Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources Joel Fitzgibbon said he was "pleased" the engineering review would allow for further operation.
"The additional months will give us more time to build the new generation and storage capability AGL has promised," he said.
"AGL has again committed itself to making sure Liddell's workforce will be taken care of and I welcome that commitment."
While you're with us, did you know The Herald is now offering breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up-to-date with all the local news - sign up here.
IN NEWS TODAY:
- Newcastle's male-only tennis club votes to admit female members
- Greens and Labor senators' ultimatum to Morrison government: Release PFAS inquiry response or else
- Train accident survivor Marny Cringle shares story with St Joseph's College Lochinvar
- Knights CEO Phil Gardner questions Jesse Ramien's commitment to the club after declaring he is free to leave
- Water restrictions are due to be introduced in the Lower Hunter in September