Hydro Tasmania has begun a $10M refurbishment project at the 342MW Poatina power station in northern Tasmania.

The project involves replacing the original anti corrosion paintwork inside the project’s 46-year-old penstock to maintain the life and operability of the pipeline as this coating is now in a poor condition.

An outcome of the new coating will be to reduce the friction in the pipeline, improving the overall efficiency of the scheme and thereby increase electricity generation.

As a result of this work, the station will be shut down for five months and the penstock and tunnel dewatered. This will see water flows downstream of the power station affected with periods of lower than usual flows in Brumby’s Creek and the Macquarie River.

In anticipation of the outage, Hydro Tasmania has been working with the local community and stakeholders for the past two years. This has involved meetings, public information sessions as well as a regular newsletter.

“The project is vital to the power station and the reliability and life of the pipeline in particular and needs to be done,” project manager Tim Cubit said. “But we also recognised right from the start that there would be a significant impact on the local community as a result of shutting down the station for five months.

“During the past two years we have been talking to those who will be affected downstream of the station such as irrigators, local businesses and the local council to understand their needs and concerns.

“We wanted to get the timing right and minimise the impact wherever possible while getting this vital project completed.”

The penstock refurbishment project will cost about $10M and employ up to 20 people. Significant maintenance and improvement work will also be carried out at the power station during the outage taking the overall cost of the work at Poatina to over $15M.

Poatina is the Australian state’s second largest station with a peak generation of 342MW. It produces about 12% of the State’s energy output.