IN PHOTO: Vapour rises from cooling towers at the Loy Yang coal fired power station, about 150 km (93 miles) east of Melbourne in Victoria state April 2, 2012. After years of wrenching debate, a carbon tax on Australian industry starts in July, but instead of bringing much-needed investment certainty, the scheme is delivering the opposite. Picture taken April 2, 2012. REUTERS/Sonali Paul

Alinta Energy that owns two coal-fired power stations and a coalmine at Port Augusta in South Australia will reportedly close its operations by early 2018 or even sooner.

The power stations are based in company’s Northern and Playford B facilities and the coalmine is in the Leigh Creek area. The company blames the falling electricity demand and rising renewable energy supply for its decision to close down the operations.

The company’s chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said the decision to close its operations had been briefed to all the employees and key stakeholders. He said the company is already in talks with the South Australian Government, unions and the communities at Port Augusta and Leigh Creek about the decision, which is likely to affect the lives of at least 440 employees.

The company also admitted that the welfare of the employees' families is the utmost priority at this point. "Our decision to close the business has been made at the conclusion of a detailed strategic review, during which we have consulted extensively and investigated a range of options with key stakeholders over recent months, including the SA Government," said Mr. Dimery.

The Losses That Company Faced

Mr. Dimery said the company suffered an operating loss of $100 million during more than four years of running the business; while it pumped in another $200m to extend the operating life the business. Meanwhile, he said the steep decline in overall demand for energy in South Australia among industrial customers and households becoming more energy efficient made the company take the decision of closure.

Coping With The Closure

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced the Government’s decision to dole out an initial $1 million to support the communities most affected by the shut down. "We've already established a task force which will be led by Minister [Kyam Maher]. The State Government has immediately established an Upper Spencer Gulf community engagement team to provide support and advice to the regional communities," he said.

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