The AGL Energy Ltd (ASX:AGL) share price opened 10 cents higher on Friday at $20.90, and has risen a further 34 cents or 1.64% to $21.14 at the time of writing.
This lift comes on the back an announcement on Thursday from the energy company that it will spend up to $400 million to build a new gas-fired power station near Newcastle in NSW, as it pushes forward with plans to shut down its ageing Liddell coal-fired power plant.
AGL Energy Ltd says it is assessing sites for a 252 megawatt electricity plant near its Newcastle gas storage facility.
AGL Energy Ltd chief executive Andy Vesey said the new plant is part of a two-stage plan which the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has confirmed will help address the loss in energy supply that may occur as a result of closing down of the Liddell power station.
“AGL is committed to supporting the orderly transition of Australia’s electricity generation capability to modern, clean and reliable energy supply,” Mr Vesey said.
“That’s why we gave seven years’ notice of when we intend to close the Liddell power station at the end of 2022 and we are pleased to commit today to build the power station near Newcastle.”
AGL Energy Ltd announced it plans to close down Liddell Power Station in April 2015.
AGL Energy Ltd is also planning to add 100 megawatts to its Bayswater power station, has an agreement to purchase over 300 megawatts of capacity from the Sunraysia solar project and said it will continue to assess the potential to develop a further 500 megawatts of gas-fired generation capacity.
The Sydney-based company, which will hold a press conference to speak about the new plant in Newcastle on Friday, has come under pressure in recent months from the federal government over its decision to shut down the Liddell power station.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has previously urged AGL Energy Ltd to consider an offer from Alinta Energy to buy the plant, echoing calls from the Prime Minister who wants the station to stay open until 2025, when the expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme is online, to ensure there is no gap in power availability.
On Friday, the federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, welcomed plans for the new plant but said it will only make up part of the shortfall created from the Liddell plant shutdown.
In addition to the new power plant, which is due to complete construction by 2022, AGL Energy Ltd has also begun construction on 210 megawatts of gas-fired generation in South Australia, and 653 megawatts of wind farms in Queensland and NSW.
The AGL Energy Ltd share price has fallen almost 20.59% in the last 12 months, while the S&P/ASX 200 Index has gained roughly 0.28%. The AGL Energy Ltd share price has fallen almost 11% in the last 3 months.