20/10/2009 - 09:25

Muja restart escapes EPA assessment

20/10/2009 - 09:25

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Verve Energy's decision to restart the state's oldest coal fired power station will not be formally assessed by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The Muja A/B power station at Collie, the state's oldest and least efficient coal-fired generator.

Verve Energy's decision to restart the state's oldest coal fired power station will not be formally assessed by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The EPA yesterday ruled that the $100 million refurbishment and restart of the Muja A/B power station at Collie, the state's oldest and least efficient coal-fired generators, would not require formal environmental assessment. The project had been referred to the EPA by rival coal fired generator Griffin Energy.

Instead, the EPA recommended the project should proceed subject to normal works approvals.

The decision comes a month after reports that delays in gaining environmental approvals for the revamp would delay recommissioning of the 40 year old plant, which was retired in April 2007 but temporarily brought back online in the wake of the Varanus Island gas disruption last year.

Verve is undertaking the refurbishment program of Muja A/B's four 60 megawatt coal fired generators to provide back-up peaking capacity from 2012 in partnership with Geelong-based Inalco Energy.

Under the 50:50 joint venture, Inalco will spend at least $100 million on retrofitting new pollution control technology to improve the plant's environmental performance.

The joint venture arrangement will also effectively free up an extra 120MW of generating capacity, half of Muja A/B's total capacity, for Verve which is bound by a government imposed 3000MW cap on its total generation capacity.

The cap was imposed when the old Western Power was disaggregated in order to promote competition and lessen Verve's dominance in electricity generation.

Verve claims that restarting the state's oldest coal fired generators will enable it to generate low cost peaking power when required and generate a decent return on an already established plant that would otherwise have to be mothballed or demolished at great expense to WA taxpayers.

The refurbished plant is expected to operate for at least 15 years, at which point Verve believes commercially viable "clean coal" generation technology will be available.

 

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