May 22, 2017

EnergyAustralia, one of Australia's leading energy retailers, today thanked the people of Lithgow and the wider community for their strong and public support for the continued operation of the Mt Piper power station.

On Wednesday 17 May, hundreds of community members attended a Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) meeting to consider a proposed $100 million project to treat water produced at Centennial Coal's Springvale mine for use at the Mt Piper power station. Absent the approval, both the mine and the power station would be forced to close, at the cost of around 600 direct jobs.

EnergyAustralia Executive – Energy, Mark Collette, thanked past and present EnergyAustralia and Centennial employees, their families, business owners, and members of the community for participating in the hearing. Lithgow Council Mayor Stephen Lesslie and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole also attended the PAC meeting.

"EnergyAustralia and our people are very aware of our heritage and the critical importance of Mt Piper and the Springvale mine to the community; these assets are at the very heart of economic activity in the region," Mr Collette said.

"The power station and the mine provide real jobs, done by real people with real families and financial commitments; the project's approval ensures their ongoing employment and quality of life.

"Last Wednesday we saw a great demonstration of people power, with community members prepared to turn out in droves to have their say. The personal accounts we heard and the great encouragement and support we received inside and outside the meeting were heartening and humbling.

"I had several long-standing employees tell me how moved they were at the courage of the community to stand up in such a public forum and express their confidence in

EnergyAustralia. It meant a lot to us, and we want to thank the community," Mr Collette said.

Mr Collette said EnergyAustralia and Centennial Coal had taken care to incorporate feedback from the community in the project design so that it balanced the need to preserve local jobs, protect the environment and the deliver reliable and affordable energy for customers.

If approved, the water treatment project will generate around 70 construction jobs and support the ongoing operation of Mt Piper and the Springvale mine which together provide around 600 jobs and supply about 15% of the state's electricity demand.

"This project is incredibly important for the region, for our operations and for our customers; there is no higher priority for EnergyAustralia or of such immediate importance to the reliability of energy supply in New South Wales," Mr Collette said.

About the project:

EnergyAustralia and Centennial Coal have jointly proposed to develop a water treatment plant project. The development involves an investment of $100 million and construction of:

  • A 15-kilometre water pipeline, to transfer up to 42 mega-litres of mine water per day from the Springvale mine to the Mt Piper power station, and
  • A desalination plant to treat water for reuse in Mt Piper’s cooling towers.

The New South Wales Department of Planning & Environment has recommended the project be approved; the independent PAC is the determining authority and is expected to make its decision in June.