Latrobe Valley coal-fired power station to close in March 2017.

The closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in March 2017 will mean a big cut in Victoria’s climate pollution and marks a key moment for energy policy in Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“Hazelwood is the dirtiest power station in Australia and one of the dirtiest in the world,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“Hazelwood is 50 years old and pumps out more than 15 million tonnes of climate pollution each year, making that one power plant responsible for nearly 15 per cent of Victoria’s and 3 per cent of Australia’s total climate pollution.

“This is a key moment in a transition that is already well underway – the switch from dirty energy to clean energy – and Australia’s energy policy is now at a fork in the road.

“Will the federal government continue to back a dying industry that is damaging the climate and making its workers and surrounding communities sick, or will our federal representatives lead a national plan to move Australia to clean energy, attract investment, create jobs and help affected communities through the changes?”

A new report by ACF and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Jobs in a clean energy future, shows enduring, credible policies on climate change and energy would create one million new Australian jobs by 2040.

“If we continue to let this transition happen haphazardly and chaotically we will be left with damaged communities and more pollution,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

“When coal-fired power stations close suddenly without proper planning the changes can negatively affect communities, but well-planned closures with strong policies and support can see communities thrive.

“ACF welcomes the Victorian and federal government’s statements indicating support for the Latrobe Valley community and urges the federal government to lead a coordinated national plan to transform our energy system and help affected communities through the time of transition.”

Carbon & Energy Markets modelling for the Victorian government shows the closure of Hazelwood is likely to increase household electricity costs by less than $1 a week.

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