May 1, 2017
In February this year, Queenslanders dodged a bullet … just … and the power generating units at Tarong played a big role in that lucky escape.
On February 12, a heatwave pushed electricity demand in the State to a record 9369MW at 5:30pm.
Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda told community visitors to Stanwell’s Tarong Power Station last week that this figure was 300MW higher than the previous record.
And it could have been even higher if February 12 hadn’t been a Sunday.
Queensland’s power generators had just 500MW in reserve; if this had been called upon – or if any of the generators in action had broken down for any reason – load-shedding would have become necessary and Queenslanders would have started to experience brownouts.
Mr Van Breda praised the Stanwell team for their efforts on that day and every day: “We do an absolutely amazing job … we keep the lights on, we keep the wheels turning,” he said.
However, electricity supply into the future was an “issue for politicians and policymakers”.
“They have to find a balance between keeping the lights on while keeping supply affordable and sustainable,” Mr Van Breda said.
“February 12 was a particular challenge for us but our site managers were exceptional in how they managed that peak demand.
“We believe that Stanwell has a very strong role to play in the future.
“And over the next five years we are going to run the plant harder.”
The morning at Stanwell was to provide an opportunity for Stanwell staff to update the community on activities at Tarong North and Tarong power stations, as well as Meandu coal mine.
Tarong Power Station acting site manager Peter Slabber said the generating units at Tarong ran at more than 99 per cent reliability over summer.
On that February Sunday, there were just five staff managing 1843MW of output.
“The guys absolutely performed but it wasn’t just the guys on the day; it was all the maintenance that went before,” Mr Slabber said.
Meandu Mine acting site manager Jacob Orbell said the mine had produced 6.1 million tonnes of coal this year for the power stations, “the biggest year to date since 1995”.
Mr Orbell said a decision taken in 2013 to line up the coal pits in a straight line – as done in Central Queensland mines – was saving money through reducing wear and tear on trucks and other equipment.
He said cost of the coal being delivered to Tarong was gradually being reduced, but he could not reveal the actual cost as this was commercial in confidence.
He said the surface rights extension project (the proposed extension of Meandu into an area to the north-east of the current mine) was still being worked through.
Wakka Wakka Elders had surveyed the mine site and located some stone flakes and tools which had been removed, and the relocation of the public road within the area should start next month.
Stanwell have now lodged an application to close approximately 1.9km of Ridge Road northeast of its intersection with the Tarong Yarraman Road, along with 810m of Tarong Yarraman Road east of its intersection with Ridge Road, for four months between early May and early September.
The closure will allow Stanwell to build a new section of Ridge Road to maintain a public road connection in the area.
Mr Orbell said Meandu Mine won an internal Downer award last year for its mine rehabilitation work. Over the past 12 months, 30ha had been rehabilitated.
Former St Mary’s Catholic College student Joseph Anderson had won the inaugural $10,000 Meandu Mine Technical Mining Study Support Scholarship.