The intake tower 200 metres above Gordon Power Station

Gordon gets a new lease on life

21 December 2018


If life begins at 40, as the saying goes, it began this year for one of our most iconic landmarks. But clocking up four decades of dedicated power generation for Tasmania had taken a toll.


The towering Gordon Dam and its power station in Tasmania’s south west were officially opened in 1978, and together with Lake Pedder, form the largest water storage in Australia. The power station has a generating capacity of 450 megawatts or about a fifth of our total generating capacity.


This year saw the power station undergo one of its biggest maintenance operations. The human equivalent of open heart surgery. If we think of the power station as the heart of the system, the issue was with one of its main valves or, in this case, it’s intake gate.


Playing the role of surgeon was our Specialist Mechanical Engineer Justin O’Sullivan. He said it was time to replace a key component of the intake gate which controls the flow of water from the lake into the power station.


Not your average piece of hardware


This intake gate is not the kind of equipment you can pick up at the local hardware shop. We’re talking about something that controls a 60 tonne cylindrical gate which is eight metres in diameter and five metres high. So you can imagine, repairing something that big at the bottom of a lake is a massive operation. 


Gordon Power Station is underground. It sits 150 metres below the bottom of the lake or almost 200 metres  below the surface. Just getting to the intake gate is a dangerous operation in itself, but it’s something our highly trained and skilled professionals do very well. It took a team of almost 80 people including specialist divers to take on this operation. The team worked a roster spanning day and night six-days-a-week for almost four weeks with the station out of service, to get the job done. That’s a long time in the operating theatre by any measure.


We’re happy to say that the operation was a success and Gordon Power Station has made a full recovery. In fact it was back to 100 per cent almost immediately and our friendly doctors say it will continue to work as well as it always has for decades to come.  


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