AGL Macquarie general manager Kate Coates believes the Liddell Power Station will have a future beyond its scheduled closure.
Ms Coates addressed the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (MCCI) special breakfast meeting at the Muswellbrook Race Club on Tuesday, with the local energy plant a hot topic of discussion.
Liddell has been in the news almost constantly since AGL announced, three years ago, it was closing its doors in 2022.
But, Ms Coates assured those in attendance the plant had plenty more to offer and that the local community wouldn’t suffer.
“The future in many ways is already happening…our site has ongoing and significant value,” she said.
The future being referred to is the Liddell Innovation Project, which will aim to extend Liddell’s life by 15-30 years.
Newcastle University’s work on the initiative was praised, with the institution providing case studies of similar situations around the world.
Ms Coates highlighted a scenario in Parkstad Limburg in the Netherlands where they undertook their own innovation project, which resulted in an extra 4000 jobs being created.
This would strengthen the local economy, which was already being spruiked by MCCI president Mike Kelly.
“The local area is enjoying a fair bit of confidence at the moment,” he said.
“We’ll continue to make our economy cake as large and tasty as we can.”
It wasn’t all rosy though, with MCCI members questioning whether AGL’s relationship with the federal government would affect funding for local infrastructure, such as the Muswellbrook Bypass.
A preferred route was chosen recently for the potential project, but extra help may be required to get it up and running.
However, Ms Coates was confident the company’s strained rapport with the government wouldn’t have an impact and it would be business as usual.
Although Mr Kelly stated early in the meeting that “Some aspects (of the preferred bypass route) are not ideal,” and that the MCCI would be speaking to the council about the issue.
Another concern about the station’s influence surrounded the future of Lake Liddell, and whether it would ever be open to the public again.
That answer was less optimistic with Ms Coates saying they had no capability to make the lake available for the foreseeable future due to safety concerns, although she outlined hopes of it one day returning to its former glory.
But, despite these issues, it seems clear that AGL is planning on staying in the Muswellbrook region well beyond 2022, and local employees will have ample opportunity to regain work after the original closure.