Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon takes aim at government's 'poor' energy policy and handling of Liddell Power Station closure

HUNTER MP Joel Fitzgibbon has fired another shot at the Scott Morrison government over its "poor" energy policy and, in particular, its recent handling of the Liddell Power Station cessation.

Earlier in the month, AGL revealed it would delay its impeding closure of the Muswellbrook facility by a further four months.

Liddell was previously set to end operations in 2022.

But, the company declared last week that three of their four turbines were scheduled to continue until April 2023, following the findings of an independent engineering assessment.

The plant will be kept running alongside the Torrens A Power Station, near Adelaide, to help cope with the testing summer months.

Mr Fitzgibbon criticised the timing of the announcement.

"The Morrison government is one which embarrasses itself on an almost daily basis," he said.

"It wanted everyone to believe it had successfully muscled AGL into keeping the aging power station open.

"What it didn't say was the extension is just four months.

"AGL did an extraordinary thing, which had never been done before.

"The company gave five years' notice it would be closing a significant power generator in our country.

"That's when the government needed to act.

"It should have picked up its game on developing an energy policy that will bring investment forward."

Mr Fitzgibbon believes a decision to establish a working group is "too little, too late".

"The government said [on Friday] it was going to form a task force to decide what to do about our energy system when Liddell closes," he added.

"However, we've known for ages the plant could not continue beyond 50 years.

"They've also hinted that one of the options might be to keep Liddell open even longer, although it's not possible.

"This is just another attempt to avoid a serious energy policy and, I suspect, to ensure the issue remains beyond another federal election campaign.

"If the formation of a committee is the best the Morrison government can do after six years, we are all in trouble."

The company gave five years' notice it would be closing a significant power generator in our country. That's when the government needed to act.

Joel Fitzgibbon

As for the local member, he is forging ahead regardless.

"We'll carry on working with AGL to progress the significant investment it has promised in new forms of energy generation and storage," he said.

"While the government continues to dither and spin, we are getting on with the job.

"The Bayswater upgrade, a gas-fired peaking station, pumped hydro and battery storage are all part of our push to ensure the Hunter remains the engine room of NSW.

"Bayswater's improvements will give it about another 250 megawatt hours and, of course, a longer life.

"The development of a gas-fired peaking station is well-advanced, although somewhat contingent on securing the gas supply.

"A plan to have the pumped hydro system in place is underway, too, as is a significant battery storage facility.

"Things are happening and if we can just keep those going then we will maintain that status of the key generator in our state.

"An energy policy from Canberra would help but we are not holding our collective breath."