AGL has formally rejected the $250 million offer for Liddell from Alinta Energy.
The company said it was “not in the best interests of AGL or its shareholders” to sell to the power firm bought by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises in 2017.
“AGL has completed a thorough assessment of the offer and, after careful consideration, has advised Chow Tai Fook and Alinta that it will not proceed any further with the offer,” the company told the ASX on Monday.
“Consequently, AGL has reaffirmed its decision to close Liddell in December 2022 and will continue progressing its NSW Generation Plan, which includes repurposing Liddell.”
AGL confirmed the offer was made on April 30, describing it as “highly conditional” as the company had not sought to sell the power station.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has previously urged AGL to accept the offer from Alinta to buy the plant, echoing calls from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who wants the station to stay open until 2025, when the expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme is online, to ensure there is no gap in power availability.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has lashed out at AGL after it rejected the sale.
“They’re taking everybody for a ride,” Mr Joyce told reporters.
“So they can close down a power station that other people want to buy so there’s less supply so you pay more.
“We need to grab AGL, cart them back in and say this is BS. You’re taking us for a ride. You think we’re fools. The Australian people are not and they are not going to pay for your market manipulation which is what’s coming next.”
Former prime minister Tony Abbott called for the federal government to acquire the power station and on-sell it to Alinta.
“My very strong view given that the federal government has effectively now got responsibility for energy security, the government should compulsorily acquire this power station for the price Alinta were prepared to pay and then it should sell it to Alinta,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.
Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said on Monday the company’s decision was good news for the region.
“Liddell Power Station is fast approaching the end of its economic life and AGL’s plans to build new generation capacity is the only way to maintain and grow long-term jobs in the region,” he said.
“In the Hunter we have the workforce, the land, the resources and the transmission lines. The only thing holding back our aspiration is the Turnbull government.”
The announcement also drew praise from the Australian Conservation Foundation, who said it would prevent significant climate pollution.
“This decision will prevent significant climate pollution that would have been caused by Alinta and Manufacturing Australia’s reckless bid to keep the clunking old Liddell plant burning coal well past its used-by date,” climate change program manager Gavan McFadzean said.