AGL to build $230m hydro plant

DIVERSIFIED energy company, Australian Gas Light has unveiled plans to build one of the country’s largest hydroelectric power plants, which will provide additional peaking electricity generation capacity for Victoria and increase the amount of zero emissions electricity produced from the company’s power generation assets.
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AGL will construct a $230 million 140MW hydroelectric peaking power station at Bogong in the Kiewa Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region. The company has also announced the commissioning of the nearby 12.2MW Banimboola hydroelectric power station.

Bogong will increase the hydro proportion of AGL’s wholesale generation portfolio by 5%, meaning that almost half of AGL’s total generation portfolio now produces zero emissions.

“Bogong is one of the last opportunities anywhere in Australia to construct a large-scale, fast-start, fully discretionary hydro peaking generation plant and will further cement AGL’s position as a market-leading integrated energy company,” AGL managing director and chief executive Paul Anthony said.

“This development will deliver important strategic benefits to AGL’s wholesale energy portfolio and through its fast start-up capabilities, will also help meet Victoria’s electricity demand during peak periods.”

The Bogong power station will be built adjacent to Bogong Village at the base of Lake Guy, augmenting the existing Kiewa hydroelectric scheme.

AGL said the project would transform the existing Kiewa scheme into a more efficient peak operation by enabling the nearby 150MW McKay Creek power station to operate at its maximum capacity of 160MW and enabling instantaneous water delivery to the 29MW Clover power station, also part of the Kiewa scheme.

In addition to being a zero-emissions plant, Bogong also has been designed to minimise the current environmental impacts of the operation of McKay Creek by returning the Pretty Valley branch of the East Kiewa River to natural water flows during normal operation. This will be achieved through building a 6.5km underground tunnel between McKay Creek and Bogong.

At Banimboola, AGL has commissioned a new power station, which optimises the generation capabilities of the Dartmouth Reservoir and will provide additional generation during peak demand months.

Both power stations, when in full production, will provide enough electricity to meet the summer demand of about 122,000 average homes and eliminate more than 185,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions.

AGL’s decision to proceed with Bogong follows the Victorian Government’s recent announcement of a Renewable Energy Target Certificate scheme to start in 2008.

Bogong is scheduled to be fully commissioned by October 2009 in time to meet the 2009-2010 peak summer demand.

Bogong and Banimboola will be owned by the AGL Energy business to be created should the merger of AGL and Alinta’s infrastructure businesses proceed. Shareholders will vote on this proposal early next month.

AGL has awarded two major turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts for Bogong to McConnell Dowell Constructors (Australia) and Toshiba International.