Quake trips power

LOCAL power generators have been praised by the independent energy market operator for their response to the earthquake’s impact this week.

The 5.5 magnitude quake triggered the shut of three of Loy Yang Power’s four generator units and tripped the second unit Yallourn power station had just returned to operation following its recent mine flood, sending it back offline.

The Australian Energy Market Operator reported, however, only minor localised power disruptions resulted and there were no major power outages.

Though AEMO issued multiple market notices in the aftermath of the earthquake, reporting impacts on the state’s generation, transmission and distribution systems, yesterday an AEMO spokesperson told The Express Yallourn and Loy Yang power stations had “managed things very well”.

“As a result there was no major impact on the market, and because it occurred after the 6.30pm peak, there was not a significant impact on the 30 minute spot prices in the National Energy Market,” the spokesperson said.

Ironically, of the Latrobe Valley’s three largest generators it was Hazelwood Power, the oldest plant, that escaped any impact from the quake.

An International Power-GDF Suez spokesperson said Hazelwood did not lose any units and though there was “some minor tripping of plant in the mine, it was quickly resolved”, with all eight units continuing to operate and “stable coal supply and generation” maintained.

At LYP the quake caused a turbine vibration protection system to shut down three units, prompting a reduction in electricity generation.

An AEMO notice in the early hours of yesterday indicated 2000 megawatts of generation, statewide, remained offline at that time. LYP units were “progressively returned to service overnight following safety inspections”, according to a spokesperson, and plant inspections revealed no damage to the power station. Inspections were continuing yesterday at LYP and Yallourn.

A TRUenergy spokesperson said mine recovery work at Yallourn had not been affected and one unit was still in operation, with plans to have a second back running by the end of yesterday.

All generators reported the quake had caused no injuries to employees.

Despite those assurances, Federal Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan questioned the speed with which infrastructure assurances were being given, particularly by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office.

After Ms Gillard’s office contacted Senator Madigan, he said “after only four to five hours of daylight, the infrastructure in the entire region appears to have been checked to the satisfaction of the Prime Minister’s office.”

Senator Madigan called for government to conduct “major safety and infrastructure checks” in the region and make the results public.