State government declares “energy emergency” at Yallourn

The state government has today declared a "state energy emergency" for the Yallourn coal mine. file photograph


The state government has today declared a “state energy emergency” for the Yallourn coal mine.

The proclamation was approved by Governor in Council this morning on the recommendation of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, based on advice from the Minister’s Department, and was endorsed last night by the Security and Emergency Management Committee of Cabinet.

It allows owners EnergyAustralia to divert the Morwell River away from the Latrobe Valley-based mine so it can repair the riverbanks and the mine wall without the need for prolonged approvals.

The situation at Yallourn has been the subject of detailed briefings over the past week and it has become clear that swift action to stabilise the mine walls is essential to protect the state’s interests and ensure ongoing energy security.

If the mine flooded, Yallourn Power Station – which provides around 22 per cent of the state’s power – would either stop operating or operate at a significantly reduced capacity, potentially for months.

“These measures will help to protect the Yallourn mine from flooding and ensure Victoria continues to have a steady supply of energy,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

It follows additional cracking unearthed in the Morwell River diversion wall when flood levels receded on Tuesday.

Last week’s storms caused elevated river levels, sparking the mine to be evacuated last Friday and resulting in reduced generation output at Yallourn Power Station.

As of yesterday, the power station was only running on one unit.

This is not the first headache the company has had with the wall since it was built in 2005.

In 2012, it collapsed after heavy rain lashed the region and took two years to reconstruct at a cost of $150 million.

Despite the damage to the Yallourn mine and the impacts it is having on power generation, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) advises there are no forecast supply issues for Victoria, due to low winter demand and the diversity of Victoria’s energy generation.