33 jobs to go at Swanbank as Stanwell goes back to coal

SHOCK CLOSURE: Stuart Traill is outraged about the closure of a section of Swanbank Power Station and the loss of 33 jobs.
SHOCK CLOSURE: Stuart Traill is outraged about the closure of a section of Swanbank Power Station and the loss of 33 jobs. Rob Williams

STANWELL is mothballing the gas power station at its Swanbank site, forcing redundancies and launching warnings of a Newman government electricity asset sell-off.

The Swanbank E station will be mothballed for three years from October 1, with the decision attributed to a slowing market and increasing gas prices.

The decision leaves 33 Stanwell staff searching for a new employer.

Stanwell announced the closure of the gas power station would be offset by the recommissioning of the coal-burning Tarong Power Station.

Swanbank power station staff were told of the impending closure yesterday, leaving many in specialised positions searching for a job by year's end.

Chief executive officer Richard Van Breda said Stanwell could generate more revenue by selling gas instead of using it for electricity generation.

"There will be no impact on security of supply in Queensland, as the market is already significantly oversupplied," he said.

Electricity Supply Industry organiser Stuart Traill said workers were briefed by Stanwell representatives yesterday.

"Whilst there is no forced redundancy provisions, essentially it's a forced redundancy as there is no employment options," he said. "They're shutting the power station down and there's no jobs for anyone."

Mr Traill believes the announcement is a strategic shift by the Newman Government and Stanwell from generating clean energy to selling gas at the expense of local jobs.

Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller also flagged the mothballing of one of the company's cleanest and most energy-efficient stations as the first step in a statewide power asset sell-off.

Mrs Miller estimated the sale could net the overnment $462-$654 million.

"The decision to 'mothball' Swanbank for the next three years from October this year follows the appointment by the Newman government of financial consultant Lazard to prepare the state's power stations for sale, with a sale scoping study due next month," she said.

"Queensland and Ipswich people can't afford this recklessness.

"Power bills have already increased 22.6% since July 1, an increase of $268 on a family's annual power bill."

A spokesperson for Energy Minister Mark McArdle said: "The government does not currently have a policy to sell state assets, and remains fully committed to seeking a mandate from Queenslanders before divesting any government business.

"The withdrawal of the gas-fired Swanbank E Power Station from service and the return of a generating unit at Tarong Power Station to service is an operational decision. Under Queensland law the Stanwell Corporation has an independent board."

Topics:  stanwell swanbank tarong power station

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