Federal Labor is still studying the details of an $8.7 million budget announcement to upgrade Vales Point Power Station's turbines in an effort reduce the ageing plant's emissions and improve its reliability.
While the government argues the upgrade will provide additional dispatchable power, environment groups have labelled the project "outrageous and unconscionable."
Shortland MP Pat Conroy said last week that any effort to reduce emissions was welcome, however, the project needed to be considered in the context of the government's energy policies.
"We will work through the details of the [Vales Point] announcement in the budget papers and come to a considered position," he said.
"Obviously any investment that improves efficiency and lowers emissions of our power stations is a good thing but it doesn't replace the fact that we have a massive vacuum in energy policy - 22 energy policies in six years.
"We have power prices going through the roof, we have got manufacturers leaving this country because of the energy crisis."
The Vales Point upgrade, one of 12 projects identified under the government's Underwriting New Generation Investments program, will add an additional 30 megawatts of dispatchable energy generation for the wholesale market.
This will contribute to the 1000 megawatt target set by the government in response to the Liddell Taskforce findings.
The government hopes the project will be complete by the time AGL's Liddell Power Station closes in 2023.
It is also designed to provide grid stability for three summers before Snowy 2.0 comes online.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who visited Newcastle on Thursday, also took aim at the government's position on energy.
"We in general support Australian investment. That's our starting point," he said.
'But we think the government needs to get it right. I wrote to the Prime Minister in June to meet with him about a policy framework that will drive investment in energy in this country.
"It's what everyone is calling out for, the Australian Industry Group, Australian manufacturers, the Australian Energy Council - they are all calling out for a policy framework that this government doesn't have."
Doctors for the Environment and other Hunter environment groups said the Vales Point turbine upgrade represented a misuse of public funds.
"The power station is highly polluting and highly profitable, having none of the sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution controls required of power stations in other countries," Doctors for the Environment spokesman Dr Ben Ewald said.
"It reaches the end of its engineering life in 2028, when the people of the Lake Macquarie and Central Coast regions should finally be free of its effects."
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