The Western Australian Government has announced the planned, staged closure of two of four operating units at Synergy’s Muja Power Station from late 2022 in a bid to save taxpayer money and ensure a stable electricity supply for the state.
To keep the two units operating at Muja C beyond 2022 would cost Western Australian taxpayers in excess of an additional $350 million, making it no longer viable to keep the units operating.
The two Muja D units, Collie Power Station and Bluewaters will continue to operate. The retirement of Muja C will ensure Muja D units operate more frequently, increasing their stability and long-term viability.
Increasing levels of residential rooftop solar power has reduced the demand for traditional coal-fired baseload power generation in the South West Interconnected System.
Synergy’s Muja Power Station is the oldest power station in Western Australia, and the reduced demand means the two 40 year-old units are not being deployed as designed – instead they are only being used around 35 per cent of the time.
The high operating costs of Muja C, plus increased maintenance requirements due to the additional cycling of the plant, will force power prices up if it remains open.
Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said it no longer makes sense to keep the Muja C units operational as they are expensive to run, and demand for electricity from the units is declining dramatically.
“Keeping them open will lead to higher power bills for Western Australians and put our stable electricity supply at risk.
“However, we also understand that this is a significant issue for workers and the Collie community, and they deserve our support and certainty going forward. We will be working closely with Synergy to ensure all workers impacted by the closure will be supported and options are available, depending on their individual needs and future plans.
“We are absolutely committed to Collie’s future having already announced a series of projects to diversify the local economy and create new long-term jobs for local workers.”
It is expected around 30 workers will be affected by the closure of the first Muja C Unit 5 on October 1, 2022. The closure of this unit is expected to have minimal impact on coal production.
A further 40-50 workers will be potentially impacted by the Muja C Unit 6 closing on October 1, 2024.
Synergy has engaged a dedicated Workforce Transition Manager to talk to workers one-on-one about their individual needs.
Workforce transition engagements include assessment of skills, redeployment, upskilling, financial planning support, assistance with job search, training programs and preparation for retirement.
The State Government has appointed a specialist coal advisory team to work with all stakeholders to ensure the stability of the Collie basin.
To attract new industries to Collie, the government will establish a Collie-based Industry Attraction Team to attract investment, and work with existing industries to encourage expansion and create local jobs.
The government has also created a $60 million Industry Attraction and Development Fund, for large-scale initiatives that will promote economic diversity and jobs in Collie, as well as the $20 million Collie Futures Fund, which is already providing new investment and new jobs in the Collie region.