Current issues

Diesel power generators in Morwell

EPA Victoria has issued a 30A approval (PDF 2.1MB) to Aggreko Generator Rentals (Aggreko) to establish up to 120 megawatts of temporary standby emergency power supply that may be required under extreme conditions during the 2017–18 summer. The approval means the company can, under an extreme scenario, operate up to 114 diesel-powered generators at Morwell’s Energy Brix site for short periods.

The Energy Brix site is home to the old Morwell Power Station that operated under an EPA licence. The site has existing infrastructure connected to Victoria’s power grid. EPA assessed the company’s application in line with the Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Act) and all relevant environmental policy before making its decision.

The company’s application included air modelling information and a risk assessment of air emissions. EPA is satisfied that the likelihood of the generators being required is low and that any risk from emissions will be appropriately managed.

In approving this power generation under section 30A of the Act, EPA is committed to playing an active role in the monitoring of the site and ensuring the local community is fully aware of any air quality matters during the life of the approval.

The approval is valid until 31 March 2018 and is subject to conditions set by EPA, including one that the company must conduct air quality monitoring when generators are operating and make this information publicly available in a timely manner. Monitoring data is available to the community here.

It is anticipated there will be some noise impacts, but monitoring will be required and operation will not be permitted beyond 10pm.

On start-up, there will be visible emissions from generators similar to what is seen when a truck starts. These will soon dissipate, although some heat haze may be visible.

Application and assessment

EPA advised Aggreko on 15 November 2017 that the proposal would require an application for approval under Section 30A of the Environment Protection Act. Aggreko submitted an application for 30A approval on 17 November 2017, with additional information supplied between 17 and 24 November 2017.

Application information received

Application assessment

Q and A on diesel power generators in Morwell + Expand all Collapse all

  • When was the application received? On the 17 November 2017, EPA received a 30A application from Aggreko to operate 114 diesel-power generators for the supply of up to 120 megawatts of temporary standby power that may be required during the 2017-2018 summer period.
  • What is a 30A approval?

    Section 30A approvals are an overriding provision in the Act that permit commercial or industrial premises to temporarily:

    • discharge, emit or deposit waste to the environment; or
    • store, treat, handle or dispose of waste on or from any premises.

    For the purpose of:

    • meeting a temporary emergency; or
    • providing for the temporary relief of a public nuisance or community hardship; or
    • enabling the commissioning, repair, decommissioning or dismantling of any item of industrial plant or fuel burning equipment.

    In order to grant a 30A approval, EPA must be satisfied one or more of the purposes outlined above are met and there will be no long-term interference with beneficial uses of the environment if the approval is granted. This is to ensure the protection of human health and the environment from pollution and waste.

    When issued, a 30A approval includes conditions that the approval holder must comply with to ensure the discharge or handling of waste is managed appropriately and does not result in any long-term impacts to the environment, whilst considering the needs of the community and requirements of other stakeholders.

    A 30A approval includes an expiry date and can be valid for up to 120 days.

  • When was the approval issued?

    The 30A approval was issued by EPA to Aggreko on 1 December 2017.

  • How long does the approval last?

    The approval is for 120 days and will expire on the 31 March 2017.

  • What does the approval allow?

    The approval allows for the installation of a temporary power station to reduce the risk of an electrical supply interruption during extreme weather conditions. Approval is limited to:

    • up 20 hours of operation for the whole period
    • generators cannot operate beyond 10pm.
  • What if generators are required beyond the approved 20 hour limit?

    If severe weather is prolonged and there is a need to run the generators beyond the approved 20 hour limit, Aggreko will need to apply for another 30A approval.

  • What is EPA’s decision on the 30A approval?

    EPA recommended the approval of the 30A. The application needed to address the criteria of section 30A of the Environment Protection Act 1970. In this case, meeting community hardship and not impacting any future beneficial uses.

    Community Hardship

    The application addressed times when the heat health temperature thresholds may be exceeded, and the use of the generators would ensure a continuous power supply (an essential service) in these periods.

    • The application was considered to provide relief of community hardship:
      • “Hardship relates to difficulties experienced by a community arising from a lack of access to essential services such as water, power or transport.”

    Beneficial Uses

    • The modelling conducted was conservative, based on 8 hours of operation per day.
    • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) impacts showed potential exceedances at some receptors.
    • NO2 exceedances were significantly less than workplace exposure standards.
    • Northerly wind patterns during heatwaves provide favourable dispersion conditions, meaning generator emissions are blown away from sensitive land use areas.
    • The exceedances have been assessed as being unlikely to cause any long-term health effects and will be compliant with the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management).
  • Has the community been consulted?

    Aggreko and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) presented details of the project and responded to questions at a community forum in Morwell on Wednesday 29th November 2017 and provided an update at a forum in Morwell on Monday 18th December 2017.

    Aggreko have also been contacting other stakeholders, including nearby industrial receptors, to discuss the project and potential impacts.

  • What is the likelihood of the generators being used?

    It is more likely than not that the generators will not be required. If they are required, the use of the generators will likely be during the afternoon/evening of heat wave situations.

    • 61% likelihood of the generators not being required at all
    • 20% likelihood of 4 hours of operation
    • 13% likelihood of 8 hours of operation
    • Approximately 6% likelihood of between 8 and 20 hours of operation
  • What monitoring will be conducted?

    Aggreko will be responsible for monitoring, both air and noise emissions, using monitoring equipment. As a condition of the approval, Aggreko must make monitoring data available to EPA and the public as soon as practicable.

  • Will the generators exceed noise limits?

    The noise modelling has indicated there may be exceedances during the evening period, which may mean there is a small noise impact.

    The State Environment Protection Policy N-1 (SEPP N-1) details that beneficial uses of normal domestic and recreational activities need to be protected, particularly for sleeping during the night period. To mitigate any noise concerns that may arise, EPA have included a condition in the 30A requiring Aggreko to develop a corrective action plan that will include noise mitigation measures if any complaints are received. EPA have also limited the operation of the generators to 10pm to reduce any likely impact on beneficial uses.

  • Will the generators exceed air emissions limits?

    The air emission modelling provided for by Aggreko was conservative and was based on 8 hours of operation per day. Based on this information, only nitrogen dioxide (NO2) impacts showed potential exceedances beyond the site boundary. As such, EPA required Aggreko to prepare a risk assessment demonstrating compliance with State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management).

    The likelihood of the generators being required is low and if they are it will be up to 20 hours in total. Additionally, the northerly wind patterns prevalent during heatwave conditions generally cause emissions to blow away from sensitive land uses located to the north of the site. EPA assesses that the operations are unlikely to cause any acute or long-term health effects.

  • Will monitoring results be publicly available?

    Yes. Aggreko will be making the monitoring data available to the public here in a timely manner, as close to real time as possible.

    Further information about the project is available via Aggreko’s website.

  • Will monitoring be conducted during generator start up?

    Yes. Monitoring will be conducted during generator start up by Aggreko.

  • How do I report concerns if I experience any pollution?

    Questions and reports can be directed to Aggreko at 1300 782 805 or via email

    Alternatively, or in addition, please feel free to contact EPA via our pollution reporting channels.

Page last updated on 9 Jan 2018