Coal power workers left in the cold under renewables roadmap

Published: 9 Nov 2020

A proposed $32 billion investment in renewable energy contains no plans to support coal power workers or communities who will be affected as coal power stations close over the next two decades, CFMEU Mining and Energy said today.

The NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap contains substantial investment in solar and wind farms - but no investment in the people whose hard work has been powering NSW for decades and no guarantees about the kinds of jobs it will create, said CFMEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy President Peter Jordan.

“In the rush to fund renewables, this government has forgotten the workers and communities who will be most affected,” said Mr Jordan.

“Recent experience in the Latrobe Valley shows that without planning and investment, the closure of coal-fired power stations and the coal mines that supply them lead to a loss of steady, well-paying jobs that is devastating to regional communities.

“Coal power stations are important employers in Lithgow, the Central Coast and the Upper Hunter. As well as a roadmap for electricity infrastructure, we need a plan for supporting these communities with steady, well-paying jobs after the power stations reach the end of their lifespans.”

Renewables projects should not be seen as a substitute for jobs provided by coal mining and coal power stations, said Mr Jordan.

Experience to date has shown that projects like solar and wind farms create some jobs in construction but few on-going jobs in energy production. The jobs they do create are significantly lower paid than coal mining and coal power jobs and they are not in the same regions.

“The government claims this roadmap will create 9000 jobs, but most are in construction and only 2800 would be on-going,” said Mr Jordan.

“I’m sceptical about these figures and worried that jobs created will be temporary and low-paid.

“We are urging the NSW Government to commit to serious investment in jobs in coal power regions, including support for workers affected by closures and real diversification to deliver permanent, well-paid jobs for the future.

“This will only be achieved through serious planning, not pipedreams.”