Australia's energy market has changed so much the idea taxpayers should have to fork out billions to build a new coal-fired power station is "just nuts", Labor warns.
A ginger group dubbed the 'Monash Forum' inside the coalition, including Tony Abbott, is agitating for the federal government to fund a new technology coal generator in Victoria's Latrobe Valley.
"It makes no sense to close down coal-fired power stations at this time and sooner rather than later we should get cracking and start to rebuild the fleet," the former prime minister told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.
Energy experts estimate building a new technology coal generator could cost up to $4 billion for 1000MW - half the capacity of the closing Liddell plant or the planned Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the fact even Mr Abbott was pushing it "tells you all you need to know".
"If there's no business in Australia that wants to build this, ask yourself why," she told Sky News on Sunday.
"The idea that we would be spending billions of dollars to build something that will give us more expensive power and higher emissions than renewables is just nuts."
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has ruled out the government investing in new coal-fired generation.
"But we would hope that the market would consider that - but it needs the right investment signal to do so," he told ABC TV.
He said the economics of coal power was such that it was now better to invest in existing assets.
"Our point about coal is that it actually has its best chance under the national energy guarantee because you will be sending the right market signals as to what is the right investment in the right place at the right time," he said.
Although the demand for a new coal plant built on the site of the closed Hazelwood generator appears to be a core ideal of the Monash Forum, Mr Abbott insisted he didn't want to be "too prescriptive".
"In the end, it is for expert and for industry and for business to make detailed decisions," he said.
Modelling done for the government of its national energy guarantee indicates coal power would still supply 60 per cent of Australia's electricity needs by 2030 under the policy.