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The Victorian Government has declared a state energy emergency after disastrous storms brought down trees, caused major flooding, destroyed housing and damaged the Yallourn Power Station which provides energy to nearly a fifth of Victoria. 

The state energy emergency was declared predominantly due to flooding in Gippsland which affected the Yallourn Power Station, with significant cracks in the banks of the Morwell River Diversion (MRD) and mine wall. 

If the mine flooded, Yallourn Power Station – which provides around 22 per cent of Victoria’s power –  would stop operating or operate at a significantly reduced capacity, potentially affecting power for months.

To prevent this from happening, urgent works need to divert the swollen river away from the mine, to repair riverbanks and the mine wall. 

By declaring a state of emergency, the much-needed work can be completed quickly and skip lengthy approval waiting times. 

Yallourn has been the subject of detailed briefings since the storm hit on 7 June, affecting eastern Melbourne, especially the Dandenong Ranges and Gippsland the worst – leaving many without power until as late as 10 July. 

Victorian Acting Premier, James Merlino, said “The damage done by these catastrophic storms to communities across the state – including my own local area in the Dandenongs – is immense and I know a lot of people are doing it very tough right now.”

Victorian Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said that these measures will help to protect the Yallourn mine from flooding and ensure Victoria continues to have a steady supply of energy. 

EnergyAustralia also welcomed the Victorian State Government’s decision to declare an energy emergency. 

Energy Executive, Liz Westcott, said the announcement acknowledges that further flooding could cause damage to the mine and will allow options to relieve pressure on water flows in the impacted area. 

“EnergyAustralia will be submitting a proposal to the Victorian Government that will outline in detail the options available to mitigate the current situation,” Ms Westcott said. 

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has stated that, despite damage to the Yallourn mine and the impacts it is having on power generation, there are no forecast supply issues for Victoria, due to low winter demand and the diversity of Victoria’s energy resources. 

Mr Merlino has announced that Bushfire Recovery Victoria will support the clean-up and recovery work for communities impacted by storm damage and floods.

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