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Green groups call for managed end to coal

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Environment groups and the Greens say the closure of Hazelwood signals the start of the phase-out of all coal-fired power stations across Australia.

The Victorian power station will close in March 2017 after its French owner Engie found it was no longer economically viable.

Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt said the phase out of coal-fired power needed to be handled sensitively through a national plan.

Without such a plan the market would shut down more plants with little notice, undermining the transition for workers and communities, as well as investments in clean energy, Mr Bandt said.

"Coal is over. The Hazelwood decision reinforces that. The real question is, will the transition to clean energy be orderly or will it be left to the chaos of the market?" Mr Bandt said.

He called on the December meeting of state and federal energy ministers to focus on a national plan.

The Australian Conservation Foundation's Kelly O'Shanassy said the closure of the dirtiest power station in the country was a key moment for energy policy.

"Will the federal government continue to back a dying industry that is damaging the climate and making its workers and surrounding communities sick, or will our federal representatives lead a national plan to move Australia to clean energy, attract investment, create jobs and help affected communities through the changes?" she said.

There was the potential to create one million new jobs in clean energy by 2040, she said.

The Conservation Council of Western Australia said managed closures of coal-fired power were also needed in that state.

"These dinosaurs of the coal era need to be phased out as soon as possible," CCWA director Piers Verstegen said.

Engie chief Alex Keisser said coal still provided 80 per cent of Australia's electricity and it was important to properly manage any transition.

"it is going to take a few decades before the full transition can occur, but the historical direction is to go to less coal generation," he told reporters on Thursday.

"It needs to be done, however, in a very considered manner."

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