Hazelwood Power Station, in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, is a brown coal fueled base-load power station built between 1964 and 1971. The power station is of 1,600 megawatt (1,470 net) capacity, and supplies up to 25% of Victoria's base load electricity. Scheduled to be decommissioned by 2009 due to its excessive carbon dioxide emissions, a decision by the Victorian Government in 2005 allowed the power station to remain operational until 2031.
Hazelwood Power Station was approved in 1959, and was to consist of six 200 MW generating units, giving a total of 1,200 MW of generating capacity. The first unit was to enter service in 1964, and the sixth in 1971. Growing electricity demand saw a review carried out by the SECV in 1963, with commissioning of the generating units moved forward to 1969. Additional capacity was provided when in 1965 two additional generating units at Hazelwood were approved, to be commissioned in 1970 and 1971 respectively.
Privatisation resulted in new capital investment, with $400 million invested in Hazelwood since 1996, such as the completion of an $85 million project to reduce dust emissions by 80%.
Before privatisation the power station was due to be decommissioned by the SECV by 2005, as had older plants at Newport and Yallourn. However Hazelwood had its mining licence realigned by the Victorian Government along with EES approvals to move a river and a road on 6 September, 2005. This agreement ensures security of coal supply to the plant until at least 2030 by allowing access to 43 million tonnes of brown coal deposits in a realignment of Hazelwood's mining licence boundaries that were originally set in 1996. Hazelwood returns over 160 million tonnes of coal to the State Government as part of the agreement.
The agreement requires Hazelwood to reduce its estimated emissions by 34 million tonnes and caps its total greenhouse output at 445 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its life, after which point it may be made to cease operation. However credits for investment in renewable energy and low emission technology will allow the business to operate within the cap and extend its life.
Hazelwood's West Field development has involved completing a new 7.5km section of the Strzelecki Highway, replacing over four kilometres of the Morwell River from an old concrete pipe into a natural open channel riverine setting, and acquiring privately owned land. Many green groups, including Environment Victoria, Greenpeace and Australian Conservation Foundation opposed the development approvals, while business groups such as Minerals Council of Australia, VECCI, Aust Industy Group and Institute of Public Affairs have welcomed the Government's decision.
Environment Victoria have pushed for alternative baseload generation through: biomass energy, wave energy, geothermal energy, new combined cycle gas fired generation plants, new cogeneration facilities, or increased imports of baseload electricity from interstate. In January 2005, the Clean Energy Future Group together with Environment Victoria released the report Toward Victoria's Clean Energy Future, a plan to cut Victoria's Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by 2010. It largely focused on cleaner alternatives to Hazelwood, and warned that continued support of coal-fired power development would lock the State into CO2 emissions that would dwarf any current proposed measures for reducing emissions.
Greenpeace has pushed for a target of 20 % clean energy for Victoria by 2020, allowing Hazelwood to be retired, and to invigorate the Latrobe Valley as a clean energy hub.
With a 60% increase in power generation since 1996, Hazelwood now produces up to 17.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is over 5 % of Australia's total carbon dioxide emissions, and 9 % of Australia's total CO2 from electricity generation.
Public access to the pondage is permitted for sailing, boating and other recreational water sports. Cichlids and other tropical fish that were released into the lake by the public have established populations, including Convict cichlids (Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus) and the African cichlid spotted tilapia (Tilapia mariae). Other fish include carp, goldfish (Carassius auratus), Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki), and the native short-finned eel (Anguilla australis) and Australian smelt (Retropinna semoni).