EVERYONE knew it was coming but that hasn’t softened the impact on the community when, metaphorically speaking, the lights went out yesterday at the Wallerawang power station.
EnergyAustralia, owners of the power station, have confirmed that electricity generation from the facility’s remaining unit will be suspended as of yesterday.
The unit, number eight, is now placed on a care and maintenance basis to return to service should demand increase.
In January, the company announced that it would permanently remove Wallerawang’s Unit 7 from service and place the newer Unit 8 on standby once peak summer demand had passed.
The company said employees at the plant will now maintain Unit 8 in the event the unit is required to return to service should customer demand for energy increase.
EnergyAustralia said it is continuing to consult with employees and their representatives on the longer term future for operations at both Wallerawang and Mt Piper.
NSW general manager Luke Welfare said discussions with employees had been productive.
“Consultations are ongoing and are helping to outline a sustainable working model for how we will operate Wallerawang and Mt Piper power stations in the near-term,” he said.
EnergyAustralia acquired both Mount Piper and Wallerawang from the O’Farrell government in 2013 “... with the intent of reviewing and improving productivity and optimising capital and operating expenditure programs for both stations”.
A spokesperson said yesterday that despite operational changes at Wallerawang, employee guarantees and benefits agreed with the government of NSW at the time of acquisition continue.
She said EnergyAustralia will continue to monitor its market position as part of normal business practice throughout 2014.
Contractors have been moving off the site in recent weeks ahead of the mothballing of the plant.
At the time of the purchase and subsequent announcement of the mothballing of Wallerawang station the company gave assurances of employment for a minimum three years.
Staff at the power station are mainly residents of Lithgow, Bathurst and the Blue Mountains.