"'No forced redundancies’ is a commitment we’ve made to our people at Liddell as we work towards its long-planned retirement in 2022. For us, long-term planning and making sure our people and the community are supported in the transition is not negotiable."
This commitment is one of the reasons I wanted to work on the Liddell transition. No doubt we’ll make some mistakes along the way, but we also have a chance to do this well, and to create something of a template for how it gets done in the future.
AGL’s Liddell Innovation Project (in conjunction with the NSW Generation Plan) is focused on just these things. Launched in July, this project is seeking innovative proposals for the repurposing, reshaping and reuse of the Liddell site (and surrounding areas).
Right now, we are in the middle of phase 1 - receiving proposals for what may be possible as part of the repurposing and evolution of the Liddell site (and surrounding areas) in the lead up to 2022 and beyond.
Our plan is to assess these proposals using broad and inclusive criteria, refining and optimising how a range of opportunities can work together, benefitting our people, our local communities, the broader region and our business.
A report released earlier this week, ‘The Ruhr or Appalachia? Deciding the future of Australia’s coal power workers and communities’ highlights the need for better planning ahead of the closure of coal-fired power stations, along with a recommendation to establish a national Energy Transition Authority to oversee this process.
Report author, Professor Peter Sheldon of UNSW, said the international case studies they explored demonstrated that both a top-down government framework, as well as a bottom-up community-driven approach worked best. He said often there were local differences that couldn’t be accounted for in a national framework but could be resolved with help from the local community, especially when it comes to amplifying local strengths which could underpin new industries.
The report concluded that the negative impacts of transition are best mitigated by careful planning, and notes that is helped by early notice of closure. As quoted in the report:
"AGL’s (2015) early warning of its intention to close Liddell is, for Australia, an unusual and very positive example of corporate decision making that allows for proper, well-planned and staged preparations and implementation.*"
Importantly the research highlights ‘concrete proposals’ that assist in a well-planned transition, these include:
- good forward planning,
- aims to create clusters and linked activities (working alongside academic institutions), and
- capitalising on local strengths and attributes.
As noted in AGL’s 2017 Rehabilitation Report, it is essential that as our industry transforms, our responsibility stretches beyond providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy – we must also continue to support the people and communities who have supported us.
* Page 14, The Ruhr or Appalachia? Deciding the future of Australia’s coal power workers and communities, October 2018, Peter Sheldon, Raja Junankar, Anthony De Rosa Pontello.