The giant, defunct coal-fired generator hall at Swanbank B. Its scale is demonstrated by a worker on the right.
The giant, defunct coal-fired generator hall at Swanbank B. Its scale is demonstrated by a worker on the right. David Nielsen

Shutdown at Swanbank B

IPSWICH said farewell to one of its industrial icons yesterday.

Swanbank B Power Station, the final coal-fired power plant in Ipswich, was officially closed yesterday, burning its final load of coal.

Long-time employees Greg McKimmon and Glen Kelly flicked the switch on the station, ending 40 years of power generation.

"It's been a great old station," Mr Kelly said.

"And 40 years is pretty good considering she was only meant to last 25."

The pair began working at Swanbank in 1969, Mr McKimmon as a fitter and turner and Mr Kelly as an electrician.

Both were moved into operations, with Mr McKimmon part of a team that developed the automated monitoring system that has been in place at Swanbank since 1990.

There they monitored operations at the then still operating Swanbank A, B and when it was built, E.

"It's been a real privilege," Mr McKimmon said.

"The biggest change in the time we've been here has definitely been the automation of the process. When we started it was all hardwired to the control room. Now it's done with computers and screens."

At its peak Swanbank B employed about 700 people and powered 600,000 south-east Queensland homes.

The plant was taken over by Stanwell from CS Energy in July last year, and plans to close the plant continued.

Electricity will still be generated from the area, with Stanwell's Swanbank E gas-fired station continuing.

Employees from Swanbank B have been moved to other Stanwell operations, including Swanbank E and other stations across the state.

When it was built the power station was one of the biggest in the state. Today its 120 megawatts is dwarfed by the 1460 MW generated at Stanwell's Rockhampton power station and the 1400 MW at the Tarong station near Nanango.

Swanbank A was decommissioned in 2002, with three 133m smoke stacks spectacularly collapsed in 2006.

A Stanwell spokeswoman said the company was looking to sell as much of the equipment from the station as possible before moving to demolish the building or the plant's two smoke stacks.



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