The Condong co-generation plant has been shut since Easter for maintenance work.
The Condong co-generation plant has been shut since Easter for maintenance work.

Power remains despite closure

FORTUNATELY, when the Condong sugar mill shuts down the 30,000 homes it provides power to do not blackout.

Otherwise, many people would have had some long, dark nights over these past three weeks.

The Condong co-generation electricity plant, which opened at the mill in November last year, has been shut since before Easter.

Operations manager Greg Petersen said the plant was in an annual scheduled closure as part of a major overhaul and maintenance program.

“At the same time we were a little bit low on fuel,” he said.

The co-generation plant pumps out enough electricity to power the mill during sugar harvesting and supply the power grid with enough electricity for 30,000 homes.

Mr Petersen said when fully-functioning the mill used about 650 tonnes of fuel a day, primarily of the weed tree camphor laurel.

“The wet weather has held up the harvesting of camphor and other wood fuels by our contractors,” he said.

But Mr Petersen added the mill had acquired more than 4000 tonnes of stockpile during the break and production was set to start again this weekend.

“All work is completed and we are warming up the boilers, which can take 10 to 12 hours,” he said last week.

“It's a very slow process.

“We have to test everything we pulled apart.”

The annual maintenance program will be planned for April and May each year.

“We want to time it just prior to the start of the (sugar cane harvesting) season,” Mr Petersen said.

“Normally the maintenance wouldn't be this long.

“But this is our first shut down (of the co-generation plant).”

North coast Country Energy community relations manager Mike Hely said when the Condong plant did not generate power Country Energy sourced its electricity from other generators.

“It has not been putting power into the grid for a couple of weeks,” he said.



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