Minister says he was misled by operators about maintenance soon after explosion

A power plant’s operators misled the Queensland government about maintenance after a catastrophic explosion, the energy minister says.

Jun 27, 2024, updated Jun 27, 2024
Energy minister Mick de Brenni speaks at Parliament House in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Energy minister Mick de Brenni speaks at Parliament House in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Mick de Brenni claimed he received incorrect advice from state-owned operator CS Energy following the 2021 Callide Power Station incident that left almost half a million customers without power.

The opposition led calls for Mr de Brenni to be sacked after a damning draft report into the explosion was released this week.

The minister briefly took time out of planned leave to address the media on Thursday, taking aim at former CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills and chairman Jim Soorley.

“What we’ve seen from the report is that the advice the CEO and the chair gave me was incorrect,” Mr de Brenni told reporters.

“They guaranteed that all of the statutory and other maintenance required had been done.

“I’m not happy about that.”

The 2021 “catastrophic missile event” occurred after a planned upgrade left the plant without a battery source.

Mr de Brenni said he received assurances about maintenance from CS Energy before telling parliament a day after the explosion that all systems at the plant were up to scratch.

“We can guarantee that all of the maintenance work that is required to be done on all of our power stations has been done,” he told parliament in 2021.

But a draft report by forensic engineer Sean Brady released on Tuesday proved otherwise.

It blamed CS Energy for failing to maintain the systems and implement effective upgrades to prevent the turbine missile event from occurring.

The report also found cost-cutting measures and ineffective safety programs contributed to the incident.

Mr de Brenni defended his 2021 comments, saying it was common practice to rely on expert and government-owned corporation advice.

He said he was misled in this instance.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

After Mr Bills and Mr Soorley resigned in 2023, Mr de Brenni said a new team had been installed at the plant to ensure the incident would not occur again.

“I was quite comfortable with their decision to depart and did not ask them to stay on any longer,” he said.

“I’m confident in the new board to ensure that the plan that we have put in place to restore the power station and address the matters that Dr Brady raises.”

The government’s plan includes appointing new advisors to the CS Energy board and launching a review into the business structure.

Mr de Brenni dismissed opposition calls for him to stand down.

“Queenslanders know that I have their best interests at heart, and I’ll work hard every single day to deliver for them,” he said.

Premier Steven Miles on Wednesday said Mr de Brenni was the best person to implement a government plan to fix CS Energy’s “cultural issues”.

The station’s Callide C3 generator has been back online since April.

The remaining turbine – Callide C4 – will make a staged return to service on June 30, before returning to full capacity on July 31.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy