February 5, 2014
Stanwell today announced plans to return Tarong Power Station’s two mothballed power generating units back into service.
Stanwell withdrew the two 350MW units in late 2012 due to an oversupply of electricity in the market and wholesale electricity prices.
The decision – and the loss of more than 130 jobs at the power station and the adjacent Meandu mine – created shockwaves in the South Burnett business community at the time.
Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda said today Unit 4 would be returned to service later this year and Unit 2 in mid-2015.
“The exact timing for the return to service of both units depends on market conditions and portfolio requirements which Stanwell will continue to review,” Mr Van Breda said.
“This is good news for the South Burnett as Tarong Power Station will continue to deliver long-term economic benefits to the region.”
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said she was thrilled with the news.
“As I lobbied the Board of Stanwell for this to occur, I am thrilled to hear that Stanwell is returning the two units to service,” she said.
“This is great news for the South Burnett and the long-term economic outlook for our region. I’m looking forward to seeing the two units back up and running and a renewed commitment from Stanwell to our community.”
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann was equally happy.
“It’s great news. I am thrilled,” he said.
He said he was notified of the decision last night.
“It was ahead of schedule of what we expected,” he said.
Mayor Kratzmann said it might not lead to an increase in employment immediately but he believed that in the longer term it could lead to more opportunities at the coal mine.
“But that won’t occur instantaneously,” he said.
Cr Kratzmann said he believed Stanwell had been unfairly criticised over its original decision to mothball the two units, particularly because of the market conditions and the change to solar power.
He found it ironic that people complained about their husband’s job being at risk, and then also talked about their new solar power.
“Stanwell are hugely supportive of the community and I know they have been working extraordinarily hard to reverse the decision,” he said.
The Tarong units will be operated in place of the higher-cost Swanbank E gas-fired power station, near Ipswich.
A Stanwell spokesman said Swanbank E would be withdrawn from service on October 1 for up to three years.
A Stanwell spokesman said last week that the corporation was balancing its hydro-electric, coal and gas generation and adjusting its production to achieve the best value-for-money mix at any particular time.
southburnett.com.au has also been told the decision to close Swanbank is based on the price Stanwell could achieve through selling the gas that is currently being burned at the plant.
The Electrical Trades Union has slammed the Swanbank decision, claiming it will lead to further job losses in the electricity industry and higher costs for consumers.
ETU State Secretary Peter Simpson said this afternoon the Tarong and Swanbank decisions were “a further sign that this is about cutting jobs and privatisation”.
“Workers at Tarong were told this morning that there would be no new jobs associated with the ramp up of the two units at Tarong, meaning the existing workforce will have to work additional hours to cover the shortfall,” he said.
“There is also speculation that at least one of the mothballed Tarong units has been pilfered for spare parts and that the cost of bringing these two units back into service will be considerable.”