I live about 10 minutes' drive from Morwell, a town that simply feels like decay. Unemployment is among the highest in Victoria, the stress of losing jobs or homes is fuelling a drug crisis and it seems as if things can only get worse.
Hazelwood power station
One outcome of last year's inquiry into the Morwell Mine fire in Victoria's Latrobe Valley was the discovery that the default plan for “rehabilitating” the mine would be to let it fill with water naturally, perhaps to become a recreational lake. The hitch: it would take more than a hundred years to fill naturally and the water quality would be terrible due to pollution from coal seams.
ENGIE, the French company that owns two of Victoria's coal power stations, announced on November 2 it will close the oldest, Hazelwood, by March, and is selling the other, Loy Yang B. The power stations are in the Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne.
Hazelwood Power Station, Australia’s dirtiest power generator and many decades past its “use by” date, will finally close on March 31.
Hazelwood’s closure is symbolic because of its size, its history and because it provides 20% of Victoria’s power. But technological advances and environmental concerns have finally caught up with it.
In May, majority owner ENGIE’s CEO Isabelle Kocher said the company was reviewing its remaining coal plants one by one and would close those with the most outdated technology.