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AGL target of Weatherill criticism

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill has criticised energy company AGL for reportedly shelving development plans after the state announced it would intervene in its energy market.

Weatherill and his energy minister Tom Koutsantonis last month announced they would invest $500 million to secure South Australia’s energy network, essentially separating it from the National Energy Market, which includes Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland.

The move came after South Australian businesses and residents suffered a series of major power outages over the last 12 months.

Weatherill has blamed the Federal Government for the disruptions, saying not enough is being done to secure supply from the NEM for South Australia.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg have argued the state has been too careless with its move to ‘unreliable’ renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

The divide has led to some tense moments, including an awkward press conference between Weatherill and Frydenberg last month.

Present at that press conference – and standing behind Weatherill – was AGL boss Andy Vesey.

AGL is the biggest energy producer and retailer in South Australia.

But the company has reportedly put on ice its plans for new generation in the state, because Weatherill’s plan involves building a state-owned, taxpayer-funded gas generator.

The premier is not happy with the news.

“We’ve been screwed for too long by large power companies, it’s as simple as that,” the premier said at a press conference, per ABC.

“When [the then-Liberal government] privatised ETSA [the Electricity Trust of South Australia], they left the power in too few hands.

“We’re taking the power back for the people of South Australia.

“A few people are upset about that because they’re not going to be able to make their enormous profits out of South Australians.

“And if they’re squealing about that, we’re happy.”

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