|New Muja deadline missed|
|THE WEST AUSTRALIAN|
|Monday, 31 December 2012 08:58|
Verve Energy's $200 million bid to revive the 46-year-old Muja AB coal fired power station has struck fresh trouble, with the utility missing the second of two crucial self-imposed deadlines to restart the plant.
The troubles have been underscored by separate revelations that the state's powerful Economic and Expenditure Reform Committee (EERC) rejected a bid by Energy Minister Peter Collier to spend an extra $60 million on the Collie project's faulty steam boilers.
Because of problems with the boilers, Verve had already missed a 3 December deadline to bring fully online the first of Muja's four 60 megawatt units.
But it has confirmed to _WestBusiness _it also missed a 20 December operational target for starting a second 60MW unit.
The state's generator, which supplies more than half of WA's power, wants Muja's four total units up and running by February, although with the latest delay this schedule is in doubt.
However any bid by Verve for more money to overcome its latest troubles is unlikely, given a push by Mr Collier for an extra $60 million was rejected by the EERC this year, according to sources close to the government.
This means that Verve may have to scrape funds from other projects.
The EERC is a subcommittee of Cabinet that was established to keep an eagle eye on government agencies' spending.
A spokesman for Mr Collier would not comment on EERC discussions.
"EERC matters are confidential and we won't be commenting on any alleged conversations that may or may not occur within that forum," he said.
On the latest delays, a Verve spokesman repeated the utility's earlier comments.
"While this is taking a little longer than earlier estimated, it's in line with the joint venture's (and Verve Energy's) conservative engineering approach to ensure safe and reliable operations," the spokesman said.
Opposition energy spokesman Bill Johnston has said that Mr Collier should accept responsibility for the bungled project, which was begun under the Barnett Government's watch.
The project, a joint venture between state-owned Verve and Geelong-based Kempe Group, which is now trying to sell its half share, has been delayed by a number of factors, including faulty boiler pipes.
In July, a worker was injured by escaping steam from one of the boilers, reportedly as they were being brought up to full pressure ahead of final trials.
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