Victoria power station breakdowns a ‘huge liability’

Loy Yang B power station. Photo courtesy of Engie.

Victoria’s brown coal power stations had 16 major breakdowns during summer, according to The Australia Institute.

The state’s three plants – Loy Yang A, Loy Yang B and Yallourn – experienced six breakdowns just between January 15 and 21.

The Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said Victoria’s brown coal power plants were a “huge liability” for the National Electricity Market (NEM).

“It is a credit to the workers of these plants that they keep them running as well as they do,” Mr Oquist said.

“However, they are now too old, too unreliable, too polluting and too dangerous. It’s time to replace them with up-to-date technology.

“They may be cheap for the companies to operate, but when they break down in the middle of summer and cause electricity prices to skyrocket, we all end up paying.

“They perform particularly badly on hot days. In an era of increasing heatwaves, more break downs are inevitable.”

The Loy Yang B power station broke down on January 18 at the height of heatwave peak demand, causing wholesale prices to rise to $13000MWh.

This is estimated to have cost $168 million, according to The Australia Institute.

There were also two incidents involving fire – the first at Loy Yang A on January 6, within 500m of the mine.

The second fire was inside the coal pit at Yallourn on February 4, on the anniversary of the Hazelwood fires that burned for 45 days.

“The Hazelwood fire showed us the devastating costs of fires in brown coal mines,” Mr Oquist said.

“The two fire incidents this year show the risk of more fires is high and one we shouldn’t be taking.”