08/07/2008 - 14:50

Power plant problems fire up Buswell

08/07/2008 - 14:50

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The Kwinana power station has been brought back to life but only partially as the Liberal party demands answers on the one-month delay to the re-commissioning of a Collie power plant and the shut down of another.

Power plant problems fire up Buswell

The Kwinana power station has been brought back to life but only partially as the Liberal party demands answers on the one-month delay to the re-commissioning of a Collie power plant and the shut down of another.

Opposition leader Troy Buswell called today's announcement by Premier Alan Carpenter over the Kwinana plant as the latest PR spin to deflect the focus that no "substantive" answers had been provided over the Varanus Island incident.

Last month a pipeline rupture and fire at Apache Energy Ltd's Varanus Island gas facility wiped out a third of the state's gas supply, and causing chaos for the state's industry that are reliant on gas supply for productivity.

Today a section of the 110 megawatt Kwinana power plant, which had been shut down for maintenance, was re-started, operating at 60 per cent capacity before full capacity would be reached within a couple of days.

While Mr Buswell welcomed the return of more power into the state's energy grid, he said Mr Carpenter needed to provide answers as to why the Pinjar gas turbine station has been closed and the re-start of the Muja A/B station would be delayed.

Last month the government had announced that three of Muja AB's units would be re-commissioned by the end of July, but today confirmed that it would not be returned to service until as least August.

Mr Buswell said in a statement there was speculation that Muja power units would not be returned to service at all.

"Alan Carpenter was seeking credit for a power station's partial return to service after scheduled maintenance, yet he did not raise the fact that yet another power station is offline because of damage and plans for the return of Muja AB, as promises in early June, have hit serious problems," Mr Buswell said.

"We need to know what happened at Pinjar, what effect it will have and what the problems are with Muja AB that has caused this potentially indefinite delay."

In a statement, the government said that a major machinery component had been damaged at the 110MW Pinjar station, forcing the closure of the gas turbine for around five weeks.

Meanwhile the government said more time was needed to asses the conditions of the machinery in the 180 MW Muja A/B plant.

Mr Buswell again stepped up his calls for the Carpenter government to answer serious questions relating to the state gas crisis including the cause of the explosion and the Department of Industry and Resources responsibilities in relation to the events leading up to the explosion, and the recommendations from police for contingency plans.

Meanwhile energy minister Fran Logan announced today that the Office of Energy was working with the Independent Market Operator (IMO) to allow smaller gas users to have access to the recently-opened Gas Bulletin Board.

Mr Logan said the Bulletin Board - which received offers to sell gas and bids to purchase gas from market participants, and matched up potential buyers and sellers - was currently limited to gas volumes above 0.5 terajoules of gas per day or more.

"As a direct result of feedback from stakeholders, we are currently looking to lower this threshold to 0.1 terajoules of gas per day," he said.

"We will be able to provide smaller gas consumers with details of these changes within the next day or two, but it will involve an expansion of the Bulletin Board's existing provision for special deals. In the meantime, I would encourage small gas users to register their interest with the IMO.

"Participation in the Bulletin Board is free. There is no cost to registration and no fees are charged to market participants."

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