As many of us unwrap Christmas presents and settle in for dinner with family and friends, it’s easy to take for granted the things that underpin our celebrations.

But there are thousands of people out across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, working so that we can enjoy the holiday – working at petrol stations so we can fuel up, stores so we can grab last minute necessities… and our generation sites, so that our lights and air-conditioning stay on over the festive season.

Many of our people working across our power stations have volunteered to work over Christmas so that others can spend time with their families – like Loy Yang unit attendant Deb Stennings.

AGL Loy Yang assistant unit controller Sally Theobald and unit controller Deb Stennings, who will both we working Christmas night.

‘I often swap shifts with people to work over Christmas,’ she said.

‘I’m happy to – and I’m happy that they get the opportunity to spend Christmas with their children.’

Despite the fact that they’ll be working over Christmas, our people find ways to keep the Christmas cheer high – with offices, break rooms, and control centres filled with Christmas decorations.

Loy Yang mine dredger driver Peter ‘Sav’ Savige (above) will be working with fellow dredger driver Byron Tangey (below) from 6am-6pm over Christmas. Sav has a young family – and will be missing his baby’s first Christmas.

Over in AGL Macquarie, the site of the Bayswater and Liddell power stations, operator Darran Elliot will be working from 7pm on Christmas Eve until 7am on Christmas Day – and then the reverse shift on Boxing Day, 7am to 7pm.

‘We all try to celebrate the Christmas spirit by brining in something for Christmas lunch,’ he said. ‘In my case, I’ll be bringing in some prawns.’

AGL Macquarie shift manager George Hague and operator Darran Elliott do some pre-Christmas planning in the Bayswater control room.

Like most of his colleagues, Darran will be trying to fit in some family time despite his shifts.

‘I’ll knock off at 7am on Christmas day, head home, pop the roast in the oven, and then have a sleep before waking up to enjoy the roast with the family.’

Getting ready for summer

Our people at the coalface – in some cases, literally – are essential to keeping our sites operational over the Christmas break.

But as the temperatures soar and the demands on the National Electricity Market peak, we need to ensure that our assets are as ready as possible for summer.

Across Australia, an enormous amount of time and effort goes into grid stability and meeting peak demand over the summer period. AGL provides an essential service to the community, so it’s critical that we plan for the peak periods and do everything in our power to keep the lights – and the AC – on.

Preparing for the summer period begins early on – at the end of the preceding summer, in fact. We take the lessons learned from the previous summer, along with any known issues from our plants, and build a summer preparedness plan at each major site.

At AGL, we are doing everything we can to make sure our generation sites are ready for summer. As some of our generation sites are older, the planning and preparation for this is paramount. The wider grid is managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator, whose role it is to operate the market to deliver energy when its needed.