Government MPs have attempted to portray anyone who has a vision beyond coal-fired electricity generation as "anti-coal".
Worse, they risk costing the Upper Hunter dearly by running interference on our opportunity to remain the State's key provider of energy well into the future.
The Upper Hunter has been the power house of NSW for more than forty years.
Whether we like it or not, coal-fired generation will eventually come to an end.
Not because of action by governments, but because of ever-improving and ever-cheaper new technologies. So how do we make sure these new, modern and clean generators are built here in the Upper Hunter?
The answer is; "get in quick".
We also retain some advantages. AGL is here and they are willing to invest. The transmission lines are here, as is a skilled workforce, the necessary land, and the formations necessary to establish pumped-hydro generators. We also have plentiful gas in close proximity.
Coal will remain part of the energy mix in the Hunter for some time to come. Bayswater has at least 15 years left in it. Our coal industry will live a lot longer because almost all of our coal goes to export markets and the International Energy Agency says our product will be in demand for many decades to come.
Accepting Liddell's time will be up in five years' time is not an "anti-coal" position, it's just common sense. Pretending otherwise for political purposes does us all a disservice. It only delays our plans for a new clean energy hub and all the jobs it will create.
Of course a key priority is to do all we can to ensure no one loses the opportunity to work as a result of Liddell's closure in five years' time. I had the opportunity to meet with Liddell's union representatives and management on these issues last week.
We are collectively determined to ensure that Liddell's workers have the opportunity to transition to Bayswater (as people chose to leave the workforce), transition to new electricity generation plants, or accept a redundancy. A redundancy will suit many of the older workers.
If we can achieve our ambitions for a new energy hub in the Upper Hunter I believe more jobs can be crated than lost at Liddell in 2022. And the jobs will be there for decades, not just for an extra five years.
Gas generation can be established very quickly but we need to build on the hydro and renewables plan quickly. We don't have a moment to lose.
This piece was first published in the Hunter Valley News on 27 September 2017.