Categories: Case study, Location: Gippsland, Australia, Date: September, 2019
Latrobe Valley is situated in the south-eastern part of Australia, in the state of Victoria, with a history of high dependency on coal and heavy industries. It used to be one of Australia’s carbon hotspots, with its ageing power stations using increasingly out-dated technologies and fuelled by low-quality lignite. In 2017, however, the Hazelwood power plant was unexpectedly shut down due to increasingly large costs required to ensure continued safe and viable operation. As one of Australia’s biggest and most carbon-intensive power plants with a capacity of 1,600 MW, Hazelwood supplied 5% of the country’s electricity and provided the Valley with a large number of well-paid jobs. The state government of Victoria realised that the closure of the region’s most significant power plant would bring about both social and economic risks. In order to deal with the transition process, the government established an intermediary agency called the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA). It provides transition support for the workers who have lost their jobs due to the closure of the mine, promotes industry diversification and growth, fosters the resilience of local businesses, and supports the regeneration of the whole supply chain in the face of the inevitable decline of the economic importance of coal for the region. Although the Authority institutionally belongs to the state government, it has strong autonomy in terms of setting priorities and allocating state aid for the transitional process. The Authority aims to revitalise and re-orient the region. It is working with other state and community agencies to transition the region using a comprehensive community approach. Initial work has been supported with funding of 12 million EUR (20 million AUS) that has enabled the establishment of a partnership with unions, adult education providers and training organisations all working with growth industries to support nearly 1,500 people to find new employment opportunities.