Power probe: Inquiry ordered into state’s ailing generator capacity

The ability of Queensland’s public electricity generators to provide “reliable and secure” power to consumers during the state’s renewable energy transition will be reviewed.

Nov 08, 2022, updated Nov 08, 2022
Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni

The Palaszczuk Government plans to meet 80 per cent of electricity demand with renewable sources by 2032, and to cut carbon emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

But that plan hinges on transforming Queensland’s coal power station fleet into renewable energy hubs and building the world’s largest pumped hydropower project in the state’s north.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni has announced a review of public generators ahead of the conversion and following the near-failure of one of the state’s major power stations last week.

The probe will check if generators currently operate using modern practices, if they’re addressing risks and delivering reliable and secure power for consumers.

The government wanted to ensure energy suppliers would be able to maintain “system reliability and security” during the transition phase, de Brenni said.

The review will also probe the Queensland’s grid ability to deal with cyber security threats to supplies.

“The government will ensure the outcomes are responded to fully and transparently,” the minister told parliament on Tuesday.

“The Queensland energy and jobs plan has been welcomed by industry, by conservationists and the energy workforce because it delivers an orderly transition, it delivers economic growth job opportunities, and it takes real action on climate change, most of all because it delivers Queenslanders secure, reliable and affordable energy for generations.”

The Portfolio Generator Asset Management and Cybersecurity Assurance Review will report back to the government in the second half of 2023.

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Meanwhile, de Brenni said the state’s power supply would be maintained as the troubled Callide Power Station returns to service.

All four generation units at the coal power facility in central Queensland were offline for three hours on Thursday morning after a series of malfunctions and accidents at the site.
De Brenni said one unit was back online and another will return on Wednesday, but outages have not affected the grid’s ability to meet demand during peak periods.

“The latest update from the Australian Energy Market Operator, notwithstanding this outage, advises the Queensland system is healthy and manageable,” he said.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is probing a partial cooling tower collapse that led to a third generation unit being taken offline last week.

“It’s not appropriate to speculate whilst that investigation is ongoing, but the government will provide a full and transparent response to the outcomes of that investigation,” the minister said.

A replace for a fourth unit at Callide, which was destroyed in an explosion in May 2021, is due to enter service in 2023.

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