Independent candidate for Morwell Ray Burgess has rejected claims by his Labor counterpart that a brown-coal fired power station built in the Latrobe Valley would not be a feasible option.
The Morwell businessman and former State Electricity Commission worker said Labor was positioning itself as the "high-cost electricity party" which had "no clues [on] how to deal with the rising electricity prices".
Last week Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards dismissed the likelihood of a new power station constructed in the region, saying "the world's changed".
However, despite Labor promises power bills would rise only marginally, Mr Burgess said the closure of Hazelwood in March 2017 had hit the hip pocket.
"You would recall [Labor] announced that prices would include [a] four to eight per cent [rise] following Hazelwood's closure – the reality has been a 20 to 40 per cent in 18 months," Mr Burgess said.
"The average person in the Valley who understands the basic law of supply and demand quickly realised that this would put prices up."
Mr Burgess, who is campaigning for a high-efficiency, low-emissions power station to be built in the region, said a high-efficiency, low-emissions power station remained the cheapest way to "build our supply" of energy.
"If you take 20 per cent or 1600 megawatts of Victoria's power off the grid and not replace with an alike product, you're going to be in trouble with reliability," Mr Burgess said.
"We all know that Hazelwood's closure has severely impacted the Valley's prosperity and we need to build a new HELE power station.
"A HELE plant is the cheapest way to build our supply and the investment needs to be driven by the state and federal governments because they are the ones who created this mess to start with."
He described the Australian Electricity Market Operator's proposed grid of solar, wind, gas and pumped hydro as an "eye-wateringly expensive proposition" which neglected to use available coal base load resources.
"Labor can blame Kennett's Liberals for selling off Hazelwood but there is no denying that the tripling of the coal levy to $4 per tonne in 2016 was the financial straw that broke the ENGIE camel's back," Mr Burgess said.
"The state government increased the rate charged per gigajoule from 7.6 cents to 22.8 cents per gigajoule of energy [which] tripled the [coal] royalty ... perhaps as much as $50 million or more for Hazelwood."
However, Mr Richards said Mr Burgess' comments displayed "a sad lack of understanding" and the decision to close Hazelwood was "based on its own company interests".
"This is more of the same nonsense we've come to expect from Mr Burgess – he should stop being an apologist for Jeff Kennett and actually stand up for the Valley," Mr Richards said.
"Just like every economist, engineer and energy expert will tell you, renewables are now the cheapest form of energy generation to build – and the costs are still falling.
"In fact electricity costs are now coming down, and, according to ABS data, faster in Victoria than anywhere else. This is in part because the Andrews' Labor government has over 1800 megawatts of renewables currently under construction."Contact Ray Burgess 0407845923 Authorised by C Burgess 36 Dodemaides Rd Trafalgar Vic 3824