AGL expects to appoint a new chief executive by the end of the year but has already decided to stick with the departed Andy Vesey’s strategy, which includes moving away from coal and other carbon-intensive energy sources.
Interim chief executive Brett Redman says he does not anticipate any change in direction from a company that has weathered criticism from pro-coal groups and politicians including former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce for scheduling the Liddell power station for closure.
“It is not a question of ideology on our part,” Mr Redman told AGL’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.
“And neither is the need to address our carbon exposure more generally.”
Mr Redman said the shift was simply “a question of prudent and pragmatic risk management”.
Nonetheless, Mr Redman said coal-fired generation would be part of Australia’s power mix for “at least the medium term”.
AGL had backed former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s now-scrapped national energy guarantee policy, and chairman Graeme Hunt said the company is now focused on working with new federal energy minister Angus Taylor on areas of energy policy.
“These include affordability, especially for the most vulnerable in our society, developing policy that can stimulate further investment in new supply, and ensuring Australians feel confident in the industry as a whole,” Mr Hunt said.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside Wednesday’s meeting in Melbourne to rally against AGL’s plans for a floating gas processing factory in Victoria.
AGL plans to build a gas import terminal in Westernport Bay – which is protected by a wetlands conservation covenant – and the protesters say the project is polluting and would dump chlorinated water into the bay.
Mark Wakeham, chief executive of not-for-profit Environment Victoria, said the project would increase greenhouse pollution and do significant damage to the bay.
“This project is unnecessary,” he told AAP.
“It will lock in higher gas prices, more climate pollution and it will damage Westernport’s really important natural values.”