State Electricity Commission of Victoria - History - Growth

Growth

During World War II construction and maintenance work had delayed, and after the war the SECV had difficulty with keeping up with increasing electricity demand. Existing thermal power stations were expanded at Yallourn and Newport, with much bigger generators of 50 MW capacity used, much larger than the 15-25 MW units used pre-war. The hydroelectric resources at Eildon and Kiewa also saw continued development. The Richmond Power Station was also converted to oil firing, and smaller 'prefabricated' power stations were erected in Geelong and Ballarat. These addition resulted in a reduction in the dependence on black coal by the 1950s.

By the 1960s the trend towards more efficient large capacity equipment continued, with additional generators of 120 MW capacity installed at Yallourn, and the Hazelwood Power Station with eight 200 MW units commissioned along with a new open cut mine and briquette factory. The Hazelwood mines was not as successful as planned as Morwell coal was unsuitable for making briquettes, resulting in coal needing to be railed from the Yallourn mine.

By the end of the decade brown coal was used to generate 90 per cent of Victoria's electricity supply, with all of the coal sourced from open cut mines under SECV control. As a result the SECV was not forced to raise power costs during the 1970s oil price shocks, in contrast to other electricity suppliers around the world.

Expansion in the Latrobe Valley continued though the 1970s with the Yallourn W plant replacing the older units and delivering much greater reliability with Japanese and German technology, compared to the previously utilised equipment from the UK. A new gas fuelled power station was also proposed in the early 1970s for Newport to replace existing plant, but met considerable opposition from nearby residents becoming the first major SECV project that met widespread opposition from the general public. It was not opened until the 1980s and with only half the proposed capacity.

In the 1980s work on a third open cut commenced at Loy Yang, as the Yallourn and Morwell coal fields were both committed to fuel existing power stations. The plan was for two new stations (Loy Yang A and B) consisting all a total of eight 500 MW units, all fed by the common coal mine. The project was hit by cost overruns, with an independent review initiated by the government in late 1982, finding excessive rates of pay for construction and operation staff, poor project management, over investment in both the coal mine and power station and general overmanning.

Electricity costs to consumers also begun to rise in the 1980s, due to the need to pay greater dividends to the Victorian Government and to service greater debt levels from the heavy expansion. The SECV was also a part to the Portland Smelter Contract, which provided the Alcoa aluminium smelter with favourable electricity prices at the expense of other consumers.

Read more about this topic:  State Electricity Commission Of Victoria, History

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