August 26, 2020

The most comprehensive maintenance overhaul since the 1970s of EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn power station unit one has reached halfway, with work being carefully managed in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

Liz Westcott, Executive Energy, said Yallourn maintenance work needed to continue despite the pandemic so the plant could continue to operate reliably, particularly in summer when energy demand is often at its highest.

“Plans for servicing thermal units are made several years in advance, but we were able to quickly respond to the safety and logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 such as increased social distancing and hygiene practices,” said Liz.

“We take the health and safety of our people extremely seriously and are particularly cognisant that we are hosting an additional 600 workers during the outage – many of whom are locals.

“Many workers and small businesses are doing it tough right now. We are pleased that we’re able to offer specialist jobs during this difficult time,” Ms Westcott said.

The current major outage is focussed on unit one, of four generating units. Once complete, the work estimated at around $65 million will have contributed tens of millions to the Latrobe Valley region.

Head of Yallourn Mark Pearson said: “We’ve significantly increased the number of amenities in the form of huts that are placed at different sections of the plant, connected to water and electricity. It’s another way of assisting with group segregation and providing more space for the workers we’re hosting.

“We’ve also installed three temporary lifts for workers to access different levels of the boiler-house, where most of the work is taking place. We have created a new lunch area along with knee-operated taps and have made ample disinfectant available.”

Mr Pearson added that as power station and mine workers arrive each day, on top of having their temperature taken they are also provided with face masks in line with guidance by Victorian government health officials.

“Having this infrastructure and supplies available only does part of the job. It’s our people who are making this maintenance work possible. We thank them for continuing to put the health and safety of their colleagues first.”

Notes to editors:
Supporting Yallourn’s major outage program, there are around 90 additional portable buildings on site. In excess of 80,000 individual temperature tests have been taken, either using the thermal imaging containers at the power station entry or by hand-held thermometers. Since mid-July almost 100,000 face masks have also been issued to workers.

  • More than 500 people work at Yallourn; the plant employs unit operators, tradespeople, apprentices and office workers. During the outage period the workforce swells to just over 1,100 people.
  • In 2019, the team at Yallourn contributed more than $130,000 to the Latrobe Valley region through sponsorships, community grants and other local engagement activities.
  • Since launching Workplace Giving in late 2018, our people have donated over $36,000 to local charity, Interchange Gippsland, that supports young people with a disability to connect with their community.
  • EnergyAustralia Yallourn also contributes $40,000 each year to Landcare, with the money going towards school tree planting days, local waterway restoration projects, and local rail trail planting projects.
  • In line with its Reconciliation Action Plan, around $20,000 also goes toward supporting local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and youth education programs.