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Compensation for coal price cap could near $1 billion

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

The ongoing energy crisis has pushed coal prices to record highs, as Australia’s resource exports are set to hit a record $459 billion this FY.

Federal and state governments could face massive compensation payments for coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.

The Federal Government’s cap on coal prices may lead to compensation of $500 million for power stations in NSW and $450 million for the Gladstone power plant in central Queensland, various reports have stated.

NSW Government sources have indicated that recipients for the $500 payment would include the Origin-owned Eraring power station south of Newcastle, as well as stations in Bayswater, Liddell, Mount Piper and Vales Point B.

According to Guardian Australia, Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen said “details of the financial assistance are currently being finalised with the NSW Government”.

It should also be noted that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rejected the suggested $450 million payout for the Gladstone power plant – which would go to owner Rio Tinto and its partners – saying the Government expects the cost “will be nothing like the sort of figures”.

However, a Queensland Government source told Guardian Australia the $450 million figure would be “in the ballpark”.

After months of speculation, the Federal Government bit the bullet in December and announced a temporary $125-per-tonne cap on coal prices as part of its efforts to curb runaway energy costs.

Australia’s electricity prices have been tipped to increase by 56 per cent by the end of 2023.

Albanese said the urgent action, taken in partnership with state and territory governments, would shield Australians from the worst impacts of these predicted energy price spikes, delivering responsible and targeted relief to families, small businesses and manufacturers.

The ongoing global energy crisis and geopolitical issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the price of coal soaring in 2022, at one point exceeding $US400 per tonne. It currently sits at around $US230 ($336.92) per tonne.

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