According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, the biggest cloud hanging over reliable energy this summer is the potential unavailability of the Yallourn power station due to flooding.
Environment and community groups are demanding a government inquiry into how heavy flooding of the Morwell River diversion in June caused massive cracking in the banks of the Yallourn coal mine and forced the state government to declare an “energy emergency”.
The market operator’s 2021 electricity reliability report, released this week, highlights the potential problem at Yallourn where the cracks in the mine wall have put it at greater risk of flooding during future heavy rain events.
“Now the electricity market operator has said structural problems at Yallourn pose the biggest risk to the grid this summer we need a proper, independent inquiry to get to the bottom of what went wrong,” said Bronya Lipski, a lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, in a joint letter to Premier Daniel Andrews.
Environmental Justice Australia, Environment Victoria and fishing and community groups have written to Mr Andrews, arguing an independent investigation of the causes would provide confidence that future problems at the mine can be avoided.
In 2012, the Morwell River diversion failed catastrophically after heavy rainfall and filled the mine pit with up to 60 billion litres of water. It took two years and $150 million to repair and was the subject of a government inquiry.
Andrew Watkins, head of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Operational Climate Services, said the outlook for spring was for wetter-than-average conditions, particularly in the east where it is already “fairly wet”.
“We have a slightly increased risk of flooding in those areas,” Dr Watkins said in a video statement.