December 22, 2020

EnergyAustralia’s 87 days major outage at its Mt Piper power station near Lithgow in New South Wales has concluded, with the economic benefit of $60 million to support Australian-based suppliers and with a direct benefit to the Lithgow region of $12 million. This work also lays the groundwork for future efficiency upgrades.

Liz Westcott, EnergyAustralia Executive – Energy, said the outage was an enormous undertaking that was made even more complex due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Mt Piper’s workforce swelled to almost 800 people during the outage and the work resulted in a $60 million boost to the overall economy,” said Liz.

“The operational upgrades completed allow us to eventually expand the site’s capacity by 60 megawatts – enough electricity to power an additional 55,000 homes – without using more coal.

We’re not just keeping the lights on ahead of the busy summer period, but building greater capacity and efficiency to support the transition to cleaner power for homes and businesses in New South Wales,” she said.

A turbine steam path component replacement on unit one was the main focus of the outage, involving an upgrade of all turbine rotors and cylinders, as well as a generator stator rewind. Major boiler works were also undertaken, involving 2400 welds and replacement of the boiler steam tubing.

Liz said it’s been the most significant outage at Mt Piper in recent history and the logistical effort was staggering. “We essentially created a little village at the site with fifty portable lunchrooms and offices needing to be installed due to physical distancing restrictions arising from the pandemic.

“For the first time at Mt Piper, a full internal boiler scaffold was installed, consisting of around 380 tonnes of tubes and planks within the boiler, allowing various upgrade works to be carried out simultaneously and safely.

“Four temporary lifts were installed around the boiler, limited to six people at a time with the mandatory use of masks. Foot-operated hand sanitiser stations were also installed on every lift level and temperature monitoring stations set up at the power station’s entry points.”

“Across all of our sites we spent an additional $8 million on COVID-19 safety compliance.  This is on top of the $200 million total investment we have made in reliability works this year. It was a large investment; however, the work was essential to ensure all our assets are ready for this summer and the years to come.

“I’m proud that the work was completed on schedule and our people have remained safe – which is always our utmost priority, but particularly this year with the challenges of COVID-19. It really was an incredible effort,” said Liz.