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Fears of fast track coal plant shut downs

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has warned against more shut downs of coal fired power plants in the short term, ahead of Hazelwood's closure in early 2017.

Mr Frydenberg has blamed the Victorian government for "driving out of town" Hazelwood's French majority owner Engie by tripling coal royalties paid to the state.

"We can't afford the closure of another Hazelwood in the near term," he told ABC Radio on Friday, adding that power supply was already tight.

The Liddell coal power plant in NSW Hunter Valley is slated to close in 2022.

"I would like to see more gas into the system and hopefully after (the Hazelwood) announcement we will see more investment in gas fired power," Mr Frydenberg said.

The Hazelwood station is more than 50 years old and provides more than 20 per cent of Victoria's electricity.

There are fears many of the 750 workers won't be able to find new jobs.

Labor's industry spokesman Kim Carr has criticised a federal government's assistance package arguing the situation requires more resources for job creation.

"You can train people all you like but unless there are jobs, then there is inevitably going to be frustration," he told ABC Radio.

Engie's Australian chief Alex Keisser defended the decision-making process and said the company had been in talks with the federal and state government for several weeks.

"This is not a decision to take lightly," he told ABC radio, acknowledging the local community impact.

Mr Keisser acknowledged investors were looking for stability in energy policy in order to make long term investments.

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