QUEENSLAND OUTAGE: The latest from the Callide Power Station fire

Callide Power Station
Callide Power Station

Power was cut to 477,000 homes and businesses throughout Queensland from as far north as Cairns right down to the New South Wales border on the afternoon of May 25 after an explosion and fire erupted in a turbine hall at CS Energy’s Callide Power Station near Biloela.

CS Energy said as a result of the fire, the other three units that were generating at the time went offline.

Tony Grattan from the Grattan Institute told ABC News Breakfast this is because when there is an issue with one unit, the others shut down to protect themselves.

It has been confirmed there was a significant amount of damage done by the fire, particularly to the C4 unit.

CS Energy has informed the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) the three units will be returned to service sequentially from June 4 and anticipate all three units being online by June 8.

The return to service dates are based on the information that CS Energy has available at this point in time and these dates will be updated when we learn more. CS Energy will provide further updates as new information comes to hand.

“We are in constant contact with AEMO and Powerlink the transmission network operator as to the status of our plant,” CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills said.

“With regards to the fourth unit C4, it is too early to say with certainty when it will be operational again, however based on currently available information, we have informed AEMO that the unit will be available in 12 months. As we know more, we will share this information.

Related article: Spotlight On: CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills

CS Energy said on Twitter shortly after the incident, “We immediately evacuated the power station and called emergency services to attend site. At this stage, there are no reported injuries.”

There remains to be no reported injuries.

The explosion occurred at approximately 1:45pm, and at 3:22pm, power had been restored to 250,000 properties.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said at 3:45pm multiple crews were on scene at a generator turbine fire at the Callide C Power Station.

“An evacuation of the power station has been completed and a 550m exclusion zone has been setup while firefighting operations take place,” QFES said on the afternoon of May 25.

“Power to the station has been isolated. This incident is expected to be a prolonged event. Residents and community members are asked to avoid the area.”

CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills said at 9:30pm on May 25, critical staff were allowed access to the power station and by 12am emergency crews handed the situation over to CS Energy.

In a joint statement from CS Energy, Ergon, Energex and Powerlink a spokesperson said, “Ergon and Energex crews were immediately on standby to restore power supply as soon as safe to do so. Working with Powerlink we have mobilised quickly to restore power in affected areas.”

There was more than a 2000 MW demand drop in the NEM in Queensland when the incident occurred. NEM Watch has listed it as a non-credible contingency event.

Power prices jumped in Queensland as a result of the power outages, pushing up to the market cap of $15,000/MWh.

Brisbane Airport, shopping centres and businesses were all impacted, making it one of the biggest jobs Energex has had.

Callide Power Station is coal-powered.

By Nichola Davies