Ori­gin in back­lash on threat to pric­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - PERRY WIL­LIAMS

ORI­GIN En­ergy has named the elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion projects where it could freeze in­vest­ment, in a back­lash against a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment plan to break up re­tail­ers who charge too much for power.

The en­ergy heavy­weight says pro­posed ex­pan­sions of its Shoal­haven pumped hy­dro plant in New South Wales and Quarantine power sta­tion in South Aus­tralia were at risk, along with po­ten­tial boosts to other power sta­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Speak­ing at a strat­egy day yes­ter­day, Ori­gin chief Frank Cal­abria said: “Shoal­haven, whether or not we ex­pand Quarantine and how we might think about aug­men­ta­tion of some of our other plants are the key ones they are sit­ting be­fore us.

“There­fore we need to be care­ful about all of those in­vest­ments in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment and we’ll as­sess them against all of the cri­te­ria.”

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has pro­posed laws giv­ing Can­berra the power to break up en­ergy re­tail­ers as part of a “big stick” ap­proach to high power prices.

Ori­gin and En­er­gyAus­tralia – two of the na­tion’s three big en­ergy com­pa­nies that gen­er­ate power and sell it to busi­ness and con­sumers – warned yes­ter­day there was too much uncer­tainty around en­ergy in­dus­try reg­u­la­tion to in­vest in new ca­pac­ity.

The pro­posed di­vest­ment pow­ers added sov­er­eign risk and sig­nif­i­cant costs to any in­vest­ment de­ci­sion, ac­cord­ing to Ori­gin.

Un­der threats of a High Court chal­lenge to its leg­is­la­tion, the Gov­ern­ment this week shifted the pro­posed di­vest­ment power away from the Trea­surer’s dis­cre­tion to the Fed­eral Court and chal­lenged La­bor to sup­port mea­sures it claimed would drive down prices. But Mr Mor­ri­son’s leg­is­la­tion could be stuck in Par­lia­ment un­til April be­cause it has been re­ferred to a Se­nate in­quiry.

Ori­gin had sought le­gal ad­vice on a po­ten­tial High Court chal­lenge to the leg­is­la­tion but has yet to make any in­ter­nal de­ci­sion on whether it would pro­ceed with that course of ac­tion.

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