Energy Security Board admits CoalKeeper will keep coal

The Energy Security Board insists a capacity mechanism isn’t about propping up coal, but admits that’s exactly what could happen.

(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

It seems only a stake through the heart will kill CoalKeeper, the Angus Taylor-era proposal to force households and small businesses to prop up lethal, emissions-intensive, coal-fired power stations despite economic inviability.

The Energy Security Board (ESB) today released its “high-level consultation paper” on the design of the proposed “capacity mechanism” intended to assure reliability by guaranteeing sufficient capacity in the electricity market — although the paper notes that the National Electricity Market (NEM) “has performed well against its reliability objectives since the NEM started”. A capacity mechanism would not address soaring electricity prices driven by international market forces, and it cannot guarantee against unplanned outages that have occurred repeatedly across coal-fired power generators.

Evidently aware that the tag “CoalKeeper” has stuck to the proposal, the paper goes out of its way to assure the reader all is well. “For the avoidance of doubt, the purpose of a capacity mechanism is not to extend the lifespan of ageing coal generators,” it says, insisting that the “structural challenges” of coal-fired power can’t be fixed via the capacity mechanism.