Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has confirmed that Victoria still has enough power supply to meet demand after a fire caused the Yallourn Power Station to slash its generation capacity.
A small fire broke out in one of the coal storage facilities at Victoria’s largest power station in the Latrobe Valley at about 6.30 a.m. on March 30, prompting an urgent response from Fire Rescue Victoria.
The blaze was put under control by 1 p.m. after about 40 firefighters spent six hours fighting it. However, the station had to shut down two power generation units as the burnt coal bunker no longer supplied fuel to their boilers.
“We estimate we will be ready to safely return them to service within the coming week,” operator EnergyAustralia said in a statement.
Despite the reduction in the Yallourn Power Station’s generation capacity, the AEMO said that there was “sufficient supply to meet forecast demand in Victoria at this stage.”
“We continue to monitor the issue,” an AEMO spokesperson said.
Paramedics treated one injured employee at the scene and had to transfer the person to Traralgon Hospital as they reacted to a breathing machine. The employee later went back to the station to finish their shift.
EnergyAustralia said the company had regained control of the site and would carry out an inspection to figure out the scale of maintenance and repairs needed before investigating the cause of the blaze.
Meanwhile, residents in the surrounding areas of the station, including Moe, Morwell, and Yallourn, received a community information alert about the fire.
The incident happened not long after severe floods damaged the town of Yallourn in June 2021, prompting a declaration of state emergency as there were fears that the Yallourn coal mine could be flooded.
Yallourn Power Station can generate up to 1,480 MW of electricity and supplies about 20 percent of Victoria’s energy and eight percent of the country’s, with an average workforce of 500 employees.
It has been in service for 100 years.
In March 2021, EnergyAustralia announced that it would shut down the power station by mid-2028, four years ahead of the schedule to speed up its transition to clean energy.
The company said it would build the world’s largest battery with a capacity of 350 MW in the Latrobe Valley by 2026 to secure Victoria’s energy supply and allow more renewables to enter the grid.
A state parliament committee is examining the economic impacts resulting from Yallourn Power Station’s closure being brought forward, while EnergyAustralia has pledged to settle workers’ employment issues with a $10 million (US$7.5 million) support package.