Largest emitter AGL battles delay, billionaire activist

AGL has warned of delays to decarbonising the electricity grid from red tape and local opposition to the transmission required to supply Australia with clean energy.

Chair Patricia McKenzie said on Tuesday decarbonisation would require significant new infrastructure to support a low-emissions electricity system and an unprecedented level of co-ordination.

"Already we are seeing some challenges, including delays in approvals, cost pressures and some local opposition to new generation and transmission projects," she told shareholders at the annual general meeting.

As cost pressures continue to bite, AGL pledged to work with customers, communities, industries and governments for an energy supply that is reliable and affordable.

AGL says it is shifting its focus from being a commodity supplier to "energy as a service".

CEO Damien Nicks reaffirmed guidance of $1.875 billion to $2.175 billion for underlying earnings and $580 million to $780 million for underlying profit after tax.

The company received a first strike on executive remuneration in 2022 but received enough support to avoid a second at this year's meeting, with their billionaire shareholder abstaining.

But tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes' investment arm Grok Ventures, sounded a warning in a statement published on the Keep it Together Australia website.

Grok said carbon transition targets set in AGL's 2023 Remuneration Report incentivise the company to stand still whilst the rest of the Australian energy market does the work.

"This unambitious attitude reminds us of the ‘old AGL’ thinking, which was orientated towards watching the transition from the sidelines, instead of leading from the front," Grok said.

"Executives will be rewarded, whilst AGL, its customers and shareholders, are left behind by inaction."

Grok demanded a more ambitious climate strategy in 2024 and executives to be held accountable through incentives linked to tougher objectives.

Shareholders endorsed AGL's climate transition plan at last year's AGM, after a tussle that ended with Mr Cannon-Brookes ousting the leadership of Australia's largest carbon emitter.

Under the plan AGL will close its final coal-fired plant by 2035 and aims to supply 12GW of new renewable and firming capacity before 2036 to ensure a smooth transition, with an interim target of 5GW by 2030.

The milestone closure of Liddell Power Station in NSW will reduce emissions by eight million tonnes annually - equivalent to five per cent of emissions from Australia's electricity sector in 2021.

Amid fears from critics about the lights going off as coal plants close, AGL said it has solar, wind, pumped hydro, batteries and fast-start gas peaker plants in its arsenal.

AGL said it was shifting its focus from being a commodity supplier to "energy as a service" as households and businesses electrify.

Residential energy consumption is forecast to double by 2050, supported by smart meters and solar energy storage systems to support electric cars, heating and cooling.

Electric vehicle charging is expected to consume 2000kWh per year per vehicle, with 80 per cent of charging projected to happen at home - depending on access to cheaper charging overnight.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store