The Herald Sun and The Age have reported that the Yallourn coal fired power station could close earlier than expected, possibly within six years.
This is a wakeup call: Victoria needs a real transition plan for the Latrobe Valley that delivers good sustainable jobs for the community.
Victoria needs a Minister for Transition to guide the process, and the Latrobe Valley Authority, which is charged with diversifying economic development in the region, deserves secure, ongoing funding.
When the Hazelwood coal fired power station closed in 2016, it was a reminder that the market alone cannot deliver justice for communities. Yallourn is Australia's most polluting coal fired power plant, and in 2018 its owners, Energy Australia, payed zero income tax for the fourth year in a row.1
The Latrobe Valley has been generating electricity for the state for 90 years. Now, change is coming to the coal sector.
It is essential that the Victorian community stands with the Latrobe Valley community. There must be a funded transition plan, training for all workers impacted by closure, and the broader community to ensure they are not alone in facing this transition.
This means seizing the opportunities for economic transformation in the region, not waiting for another closure.
Its time to get a move on with game changing renewable energy projects like the Star of the South offshore wind farm, proposed off Gippsland South. If it goes ahead, Star of the South is expected to power up to 1.2 million homes with clean renewable energy, and create as many as 10,000 jobs in the process. From manufacturing, logistics, and services, the Latrobe Valley has a real opportunity to position itself as a key hub for this visionary project.
In addition to this, the Delburn wind farm, Toongabbie solar farm, SEA Electric EV factory are all excellent proposals for the local area that need to be considered as part of a broader transition plan.
With a vision for delivering real climate jobs, there can be a bright future for the Latrobe Valley.
But Victoria needs to get real about transition, and offer a proper plan for the community if this bright future is going to become a reality.
The Victorian government is in the process of setting Victoria’s first Emissions Reduction Target for 2025. This is an opportunity to show leadership on climate change and create certainty for a just transition.