With “coal is dead!” chants still ringing in his ears, the PM knew at that moment that the only real solution for the country’s energy woes was good old fashioned reliable coal.
Turnbull is afraid the country could go down the same path of South Australia without energy security and he was not prepared to do a deal over Twitter with Tesla founder Elon Musk to install batteries up and down the eastern seaboard.
The energy market operator’s annual report shows the national market is vulnerable, especially in South Australia and Victoria, and this situation would be worsened in 2022 when Liddell is due to close.
With limited options open to him, he switched into his all-too-familiar backflip mode and started talking up the virtues of an existing coal-fired power station fast approaching the end of its natural life.
The Liddell power station in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley was due to be decommissioned when it turned 50 in 2022, unlike the rest of us worker-bees who are expected to be productive into our 60s.
Australian Energy Council figures show Liddell has a 2000 megawatt capacity, making it the third largest coal-fired station in Australia.
Turnbull saw his chance to avert full scale energy disaster in the next decade by coaxing the Liddell owners AGL Energy to keep it open for another five years.
Unfortunately AGL’s Twitter-friendly CEO Andy Vesey is not crash hot on the idea because he has been broadcasting to anyone that would listen that the company is getting out of coal.
“Keeping old coal plants open won’t deliver the reliable, affordable energy our customers need,” Vesey tweeted.
“We’re getting out of coal. We committed to the closure of the Liddell power station in 2022, the end of its operating life.”
But this high minded corporate anti-coal line is not going to cut it with Turnbull any more.
The former GoldmanSachs deal maker and latter day Liberal Party head kicker will not take no for an answer.
He will cajole, sweet-talk and ultimately bully his way into ensuring that coal-fired electricity continues at Liddell for another five years.
The PM might have given lovely speeches about the need to the save the planet and control global warming but he must now save his own neck.
Hogsback reckons the moral of the tale is: “Be careful what you wish for”.
It might sound fine speaking to everyone about stopping climate change by going 100% into renewable energy and banning all that dirty coal. However, when the time comes to switch on your lights at night, it is only coal that can be relied on.