Yallourn to cut costs

The parent company of Yallourn power station owner EnergyAustralia, CLP Holdings, has signalled ongoing cost saving measures at the plant to offset weak financial performance.

As part of its June 2013 six-month interim results, the Hong Kong-based company reported overall losses of $6 million over the period across its operational portfolio.

In order to re-balance the company’s books, CLP identified cost saving measures at Yallourn as one of the power empire’s key projects for the next six months.

The report blamed industrial action, the impact of the Federal Government’s carbon price, lower energy demand and increased energy supply and capacity in the wholesale market for Yallourn’s poor financial performance.

The operational losses come on top of the cost of ongoing repairs to the Morwell River Diversion, which catastrophically failed in June last year.

Including pumping measures this had cost the company $163 million up until June this year.

However the company stated the overall decrease in Australian earnings, in addition to losses in India, were offset by increased contributions from operations in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, bringing CLP’s operational earnings to more than $550 million.

An EnergyAustralia spokesperson said the Yallourn “optimisation program” was an ongoing effort, designed to assess how to run the plant to better reflect electricity market demand.

“We’re also assessing the appropriate works regime based on how we operate the plant. This is all within the context of preserving the rights and conditions that Yallourn operators and maintenance employees have enjoyed through the last EBA.”

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union energy and mining division president Luke van der Meulen, said EnergyAustralia’s “optimisation” plan only further underlined the need for a ‘consult and agree’ clause in workers’ enterprise bargaining agreements.

“That sort of language is the exact reason why our workforce needs a decent consultative clause, and this only makes it more pertinent than ever,” Mr Van der Meulen said.

“We are not saying EnergyAustralia can’t have these plans and be dynamic to improve things, but if the shareholders and board of CLP Holdings are demanding certain things of Yallourn, then we as the workforce want to be informed as part of that process.”

The CFMEU has been demanding a dispute clause in a new EA, which would utilise theFair Work Commission as an arbitratorifagreement is not be reached between parties over major changes at the operation.

EnergyAustralia has instead offered to broaden the dispute resolution process within the EA, which has been rejected by the union. The negotiating parties are due to return to Fair Work for a conciliation hearing tomorrow.

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