Different working arrangements in place at Valley power stations

Michelle Slater

Loy Yang B is assessing the impact of COVID-19 on planned outages as the Latrobe Valley power generators are ramping-up pandemic procedures, with some restricting international and domestic business travel.

The Valley’s three power companies provide essential services and are stressing they are prioritising keeping the lights on while implementing new working arrangements.

Loy Yang B, AGL Loy Yang A and Yallourn operator EnergyAustralia have kicked-in procedures including restricting site access, work-from-home arrangements, social distancing and increased hygiene controls.

A Loy Yang B spokeswoman said the company’s incident management team was meeting twice daily and had escalated its onsite pandemic response plan.

However, the company is also planning how it would provide ongoing onsite staff for critical roles, including how this could impact a major unit one upgrade for later this year, if the crisis continues to escalate.

EnergyAustralia has not made a formal decision to delay a planned major outage on unit one at Yallourn, but has restricted international and domestic business travel, and restricting onsite re-entry following travel to impacted countries.

Restrictions also include visitor site access, external event access and movement between sites.

EnergyAustralia health and safety head Chan Sinnadurai said the company was prioritising the continued running of its power stations, while maintaining staff safety and customer support.

“We are not currently experiencing any major challenges in meeting the needs of our customers and are working with governments and market bodies, such as the Australian Energy Market Operator, to minimise the risk of disruptions,” Mr Sinnadurai said.

AGL Loy Yang general manager Nigel Browne said they were also prioritising power generation and staff safety, with “site-specific business continuity plans in place across our operations”.

“Employees who are able to work from home are being encouraged to do so and those people whose roles are essential to maintaining generation will continue to work onsite with appropriate support,” Mr Browne said.

Meanwhile, major Valley employer Australian Paper has said its COVID-19 measures would not impact production or maintenance at the Maryvale mill.