Newport Power Station

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Coordinates: 37°50′30″S 144°53′42″E / 37.84180°S 144.89489°E / -37.84180; 144.89489

Newport chimney dominates the surrounding suburbs

The Newport Power Station was a complex of power stations in the suburb of Newport, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Newport A, B, and C coal-fired plants operated at the site between 1919 and the 1980s, while the Newport D 500 MW gas-fired peak load plant has operated since 1981. Old Newport was claimed to be (in terms of the amount of plant) the largest power station in the southern hemisphere in 1953 with 42 boilers and 14 turbo-alternators producing 327 MW.

Newport A, B, and C[edit]

Newport 'A' was established as a coal-fired power station by the Victorian Railways in 1918 to supply energy for the electrification of the suburban rail system by the Victorian Railways, and to supply electricity to businesses that required 25 Hz power. Initially, there were six turbo-generators; four were 15 MW capacity and two were 12.5 MW. The speed was 1500 RPM and produced 25 Hz. Steam was supplied by 24 Babcock + Wilcox chain grate boilers at 250 psi (1,700 kPa). The two smaller generators were replaced with a 30 MW Parsons and a 35 MW single cylinder Parsons alternator, numbered A2+A4. Steam was supplied by the four "M" boilers, which were pulverized coal-fired at 400 psi (2,800 kPa). The plant also supplied bulk electricity to the Melbourne City Council Electric Supply Department, the Melbourne Electric Supply Company, and the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. It was transferred to the SECV in 1951, when the total capacity was 120 MW.

Newport 'B' station was opened by the SECV in 1923 to supply electricity to Melbourne until the Yallourn power station entered service. Initially there were two Parsons 15 MW generators. Speed 3000 RPM and 50 Hz. Later No3 was installed of 30 MW capacity, and No8, a Stahl turbine with a capacity of 22 MW. Steam was supplied by 10 B+W chain grate boilers at 250 psi. Total B station capacity was 82 MW.

Newport 'C' station, with a capacity of 120 MW, was opened in 1947 by the SECV, after wartime delays. There were four Parsons 30 MW turbo generators numbered 4,5,6+7. Steam was supplied by 8 "D" type ICAL chain grate boilers, each producing 175,000 lb/h (79,000 kg/h) of steam at 620 psi (4,300 kPa) and 840 °F (449 °C). The power station boilers were originally fuelled by imported New South Wales black coal, but were converted to burn brown coal briquettes in the 1950s. Use of the plants declined with the opening of newer power stations in Latrobe Valley, being used for peak loads in later years. These were the last chain grate boilers used in Victoria and were still in service early 1981.[1]

Newport D: Controversy and campaign[edit]

Another view of the Newport Power station

Newport 'D' is the current power station on the site. Its construction was immensely controversial, and was the subject of bitter opposition by trade unions and environmentalists throughout the 1970s.

After the announcement in 1967 that the State Electricity Commission would construct a large gas-fired power station in the working-class suburb, local residents began holding public meetings to discuss the potential harm to the community from pollution. By 1974, the Victorian Trades Hall Council had banned construction on the site. Stan Williams, secretary of the Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association, declared to the then-Premier of Victoria Rupert Hamer: "The fact is that we're not going to build it at Newport, and that's final." After a temporary retreat, the government attempted to restart the project, but the unions voted to reaffirm the ban. Hamer retaliated by suspending 300 construction projects and announcing a new law that would require secret ballots for construction bans, on pain of deregistration of the union involved. The aggression successfully forced a gradual retreat by the union leadership, under added pressure from the poor economic climate.[2]

A compromise was agreed by the trade union bureaucracy that a panel led by Sir Louis Matheson would investigate the proposed plant. Matheson was considered unsympathetic to the campaign against the plant, because he had risen to national prominence as Vice-Chancellor of Monash University in the late 1960s, during a time of widespread student protest there. The panel's findings were mixed. Its interim report stated that even a 500-MW plant at Newport would do unacceptable environmental damage, but its final report in April 1977 endorsed the plant, but with only one 500 MW generator unit. There were claims that some panel members changed their votes at the last minute under political pressure.[2] The campaign continued at the grassroots level, but the trade union leadership refused to seriously enforce construction bans. As a result, protesters invaded Trades Hall Council meetings, demanding enforcement of the bans. Protesters clashed with police at the construction site, while campaign meetings continued to draw hundreds of workers and residents. Nonetheless, with the union leadership refusing to enforce a picket or construction ban, construction went ahead.[2] Newport D was built for the SECV by International Combustion Australia Limited of Rydalmere, NSW.

As a consequence of the reduction in the planned power output from Newport, Jeeralang Power Station was opened in the Latrobe Valley, operating with gas turbines.[3] The power station is used for meeting peak loads to the electricity grid. After the privatisation of the Victorian electricity system in the 1990s, Newport D was operated by Ecogen Energy, until the company was purchased by Babcock & Brown Power in 2006,[4] which later sold out to its co-shareholder, Industry Funds Management in 2008.[5]

Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates this power station emits 0.49 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.[6] The Australian Government has announced the introduction of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme commencing in 2012 to help combat climate change. It is expected to impact on emissions from power stations. The National Pollutant Inventory provides details of other pollutant emissions, but, as at 23 November 2008, not CO2.


  1. ^ my own recollections
  2. ^ a b c O'Lincoln, Tom. "Workers, peace & the environment". Marxist Interventions. Australian National University. Archived from the original on 2007-09-16. Retrieved 2017-06-29. 
  3. ^ Aynsley John Kellow (1996). "Victoria: Uncertain Reform". Transforming power: the politics of electricity planning. Cambridge University Press. p. 132. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  4. ^ Rod Myer (13 November 2006). "Big expansion planned for Newport". The Age. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Babcock & Brown Power sells Ecogen to pay debt". The Australian. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  6. ^ [1]. Carbon Monitoring for Action. Retrieved on 23 November 2008

Further reading[edit]

  • Jack Johnson, OBE. "The Newport Power Station: A History of Conflict". Light on the Hill: Industrial Relations Reform in Australia. H.R. Nicholls Society. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  • Edwards, Cecil (1969). Brown Power. A jubilee history of the SECV. State Electricity Commission of Victoria.