The Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme is the largest water power development in Victoria and the second largest in mainland Australia after the Snowy Mountains Scheme. It was built over a period of more than 20 years from the late 1930’s and until 1960, with interruptions to construction caused by the Second World War. Located in the Australian Alps in north-eastern Victoria, about 350km from Melbourne, the scheme has been developed solely for power generation. It has three power stations with a total installed capacity of 251MW (now 391MW with the addition of the Bogong power station (140MW) – the fourth at Bogong Village in 2009) and an average annual electricity output of 404 GWh from the four power stations.
Bogong power station facts:
- The $240m project took three years (2006 – 2009) to construct and provides 140MW of ultra fast power during peak demands.
- Bogong power station is the fourth and last hydro project added to the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme.
- As the plant does not have a dam, electricity is produced by harnessing the water released by McKay Creek power station. A seven kilometre long and five meter diameter head-race tunnel carries water from McKay Creek to the Bogong power station.
Click this link for a full history of the Bogong power station:
The scheme diverts and harnesses the head waters of the Kiewa River, Which flows north and enters the River Murray below the Hume Reservoir. The principle streams are the Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley branches of the East Kiewa River, which rise on the Bogong High Plains, and the West Kiewa River, which rises near Mt Hotham.
The Kiewa scheme utilises the water from 310 square kilometres of the Kiewa River catchment and32km of aqueducts bring water to the scheme from adjacent catchments. Of this area about one-fifth is at altitudes of more than 1500m, where average precipitation exceeds 2,000mm a year. Much of the water comes from snow which covers the area for up to four months each year.
The State Electricity Commission (SEC) assumes responsibility within its Crown Grant area, and in conjunction with other land management agencies within the Kiewa Works Protection Area, carries out an active program of forest and land management. This ensures that the area is maintained for the enjoyment of summer and winter visitors, as well as safeguarding its water yielding potential for hydro-electric power.
The three power stations in the scheme are: McKay Creek power station (96MW), the largest and highest in the mountains; Clover power station (26MW); West Kiewa power station (62MW).
The flow of water through these stations at successively lower levels enables the same water to be used repeatedly to generate electricity.
Rocky Valley Dam, at an altitude of 1,600m on the Bogong High Plains, forms the main reservoir for the Kiewa Scheme. It can hold 28,000 million litres.
Water for McKay Creek power station comes from this reservoir and from a diversion dam at Pretty Valley. It flows by tunnels nearly 5.5km long under the mountains, then by surface pipeline 1,250m long and finally by steel-lined pressure tunnel. The station, which has six 16MW generators, is located 80m underground on the slopes of Mt McKay.
Water discharged from the McKay Creek power station flows down the Pretty Valley branch of the East Kiewa River to meet the Rocky Valley branch at Bogong. Just below the junction is Lake Guy, formed by Junction Dam. This forms the head storage for the Clover power station downstream.
Water is conveyed to the two 13MW generators of the Clover power station through a rock tunnel and steel-lined pressure tunnel. After use, it is discharged into a pondage formed by Clover Dam. This forms the head storage for the last power station in the chain. West Kiewa.
A tunnel from the Clover Dam storage is joined by another tunnel which conveys water from a diversion dam on the West Kiewa River. Then the combined flow passes through a steel-lined pressure tunnel to the four 14.4MW generators of West Kiewa power station, built 140m underground.
From this station, water is discharged through a rock tunnel and open channel to a regulating pondage at Mt Beauty for release into the Kiewa River. The regulating pondage smooths out fluctuations in the river flow so that variations in electrical output do not cause excessive variations in river flow.
- 1911 a private syndicate investigated the possibility of establishing a hydro electric scheme.
- 1937 that the State Electricity Commission Victoria (SECV) recommended the Kiewa scheme proceed.
- World War II impacting on the hydro project – draining men and materials from the scheme.
- SECV Hydro scheme was completed 20 years after its commencement (1930 – 1960)
- At its peak employed more than 4,000 people.
- With the privatisation of the SECV in the 1990s, the scheme was sold to Southern Hydro, then was acquired by AGL Energy in 2005 (the current owners as of 2017).
- Construction of the township of Mount Beauty began in 1946 to provide temporary housing for workers.
- At the completion of the scheme the housing was retained and Mount Beauty now exists as one of the best examples of a company town in Victoria. The influx of European migrants, with their rich cultural backgrounds, also played a major part in shaping the future character of the Kiewa Valley.