The boss of WA-bred energy company Alinta says the purchase of one of Australia’s biggest coal-fired generators heralds its arrival in the major league of the country’s power providers.
Alinta revealed today it had won a competitive process to buy Victoria’s Loy Yang B 1000MW brown power station for an undisclosed sum in a move that will see the company return to coal.
The Sydney-headquartered company, which is owned by Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, beat China Resources and a consortium led by maverick investor Trevor St Baker.
Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery hailed the purchase “enormously important”, saying it would give the company access to abundant cheap energy and provide a platform to tackle major players such as AGL and Origin.
Alinta’s natural gas business in WA has come under pressure in recent years as AGL and Origin have joined Wesfarmers-owned Kleenheat in competing for customers.
However, Mr Dimery told WestBusiness that Alinta was returning the attacks with interest in AGL and Origin’s home Eastern States markets, where it was securing about 2000 new customers a day.
He said a growth strategy that had been built on a partnership with Queensland Government-owned generator CS Energy and a rewards program with affiliated retailers would only accelerate in light of the Loy Yang B purchase.
As a result, Mr Dimery said Alinta was aiming to grow its east coast customer base from about 250,000 to more than a million within the next five years.
“At the price, we’ve managed to buy what we believe to be very competitively priced energy for decades to come,” Mr Dimery said.
“And that’s going to fast-track the already impressive growth we’re already experiencing on the east coast as we’re able to really get down and compete with the majors.”
The acquisition of Loy Yang B from French provider Engie marks a move back into coal for Alinta after getting out of the fuel with the closure of South Australia’s Northern power station in 2016.
Mr Dimery denied the move would undermine Alinta’s claims to be a cleaner generator than major rivals, arguing Loy Yang B would enhance its ability to win customers and provide renewable energy solutions.
With Loy Yang B supplying up to 12 per cent of Victoria’s energy demands, Mr Dimery said the plant was also critical infrastructure that “needs to be there”.