THE writing could be on the wall for the Wallerawang power station.
A shortage of commercial coal supplies and a declining trend in energy demand across NSW will see EnergyAustralia scale back its operation at the local plant.
The company announced yesterday that following the completion of an outage at Mt Piper next week, it will remove Wallerawang’s Unit 7 from service.
Wallerawang’s Unit 8 will continue to be available until the end of March 2014 before being placed on a three-month recall should market conditions change.
The power provider issued a statement yesterday noting it held briefings with both Wallerawang and Mt Piper employees and their representatives throughout yesterday to discuss the operational changes and start consultation on how to best manage their impact on staff.
They have already been advised that, in addition to falls in demand for electricity, high operating costs shaped by a lack of affordable, local coal supplies had contributed to the less-efficient Wallerawang power station becoming a marginal operation.
Mt Piper and Wallerawang general manager Luke Welfare said an acute shortage of commercial coal supplies, in particular, had accelerated the need to review operations and introduce changes to Wallerawang’s operating schedule.
He said that despite the reduction in output from Wallerawang, no changes to workplace arrangements would be made until the full impact of the changes on employees and work practices had been evaluated.
Further briefings and workshops are planned at both Mt Piper and Wallerawang in coming weeks to enable EnergyAustralia to consult with employees on how best to adapt both workplaces to accommodate the changes.
“This morning’s briefing on changes to operations was the first step in a consultation program to clarify exactly what a reduction in output from Wallerawang will mean for our business,” Mr Welfare said.
EnergyAustralia acquired both Mt Piper and Wallerawang in September 2013 with the intent of reviewing and improving productivity and optimising capital and operating expenditure programs for both stations.
Operating arrangements at Mt Piper power station will continue as normal.
EnergyAustralia says it will continue to monitor its market position and the long-term operation of Wallerawang will be considered as part of the 2015 business planning process in the second half of 2014.