By  Keith Orchison

13 January 2011 – From Business Spectator – A question mark hangs over the future of one of Australia’s largest power generators as we enter the new year and a new decade – and because of this there is also a query over cost-efficient east coast electricity supply.

Located in the Upper Hunter Valley near Newcastle, Macquarie Generation has been the queen bee of eastern Australian power production since emerging from the 1990s break-up of Pacific Power.

Critics of the original New South Wales restructuring have long held that it is too dominant – that Bayswater and Liddell power stations should be separate businesses.

With their combined capacity of 4,700 megawatts, Macquarie Generation is a major contributor to low-cost power supply – and to substantial greenhouse gas emissions because it uses a large part of the 30 million tonnes of black coal burned every year in NSW to produce electricity.

In a world managed by power engineers, ground would long since have been broken at Macquarie Generation’s Bayswater B site to construct two more 1,000 MW coal-burning units to sustain the state’s baseload supply well beyond 2020 and to underpin some large-scale, energy-intensive industrial development with low-priced fuel.

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