Australia Power Company Responds to Fire

Thom Weidlich 05.27.21


A fire at a Queensland, Australia, power station this week left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity but, fortunately, led to no injuries. The facility owner’s first two statements, while terse, managed to provide most of the appropriate information for an incident such as this.

The site is run by CS Energy, owned by the Queensland government. A fire broke out Tuesday at 1:45 local time in the turbine halls of the Callide Power Station near Biloela. The three units generating electricity at the time were taken offline.

In addition to providing those details in its brief initial statement (six paragraphs of 130 words), CS Energy said it acted immediately, including by evacuating the facility and calling emergency services. It added that there were no injuries. It was investigating the incident and would provide further updates, it said, which is good to convey because, in a crisis, information is what people need.

Although the press release was compact, the company managed to include a tiny bit of background on the station: It has two plants, each with two generating units, and 260 people work there. It’s always good to have such basic facts on hand when an “exploding” (in this case, literally) — rather than slowly unfolding — crisis like this occurs. Journalists need that background.

Empathy Expression

One thing the initial statement lacked was an expression of empathy for those affected by the incident. It must have been frightening for the employees and for customers, who had no electricity. The release also lacked a commitment to safety. (A crisis’s cause should be disclosed, but here it was apparently not yet known.)

Most of these things came in the update. “CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills said CS Energy’s first priority is to make sure workers and the site are safe,” the company wrote. It was providing counseling to employees and working with emergency services to determine when it would be safe to access the facility, it said.


We appreciate the efforts of Queenslanders to conserve energy. I understand blackouts are disruptive.

— CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills

The major lapse: still no acknowledgement of the inconvenience to customers. Nothing close to that came until a statement yesterday in which the CEO was quoted: “We appreciate the efforts of Queenslanders to conserve energy. I understand blackouts are disruptive.” (In another statement yesterday, CS Energy said the three units wouldn’t start to return to service until early June.)

Other than that lapse, CS Energy’s efforts to provide information and updates in rather unadorned statements were impressive.

Photo Credit: CS Energy

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