Power outage fuels growing Australian energy debate

FRIDAY 8.40am: THOUSANDS of people around New South Wales may experience blackouts during the hottest part of today, it has been warned.

That morning the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecast tight electricity supply conditions for the state following prolonged high temperatures across the region and predicted increased electricity consumption.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the AEMO said an increasing electricity consumption on the sweltering days may place "additional strain on the national power system" and a market notice has been released to notify generators of a "forecast potential shortfall" in NSW from 5.30pm on Friday.

Essential Energy's southern regional manager Steven Ilitch said its network was designed and built to meet peak energy demands.

The story Friday's heatwave could bring power cuts first appeared on Bega District News.

Amid growing frustration with the operation of the National Electricity Market, the premier, Jay Weatherill, said all options were on the table and the government would take dramatic action to take control of the state's energy future.

South Australia relies on renewable sources for 40% of its power, and Victoria is aiming for a similar proportion by 2025.

The statewide blackout after powerful storms in September prompted the federal government to slam the states for what it said were overambitious renewable energy targets, forcing intermittent power into an electricity grid that was not ready to cope.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg has asked AEMO for an urgent report into what happened in SA, after the regulator offered a different account of why the gas-fired power station at Pelican Point wasn't turned on to prevent a blackout on Wednesday.

"We'll be asking for changes".

But Labor says the rules behind the energy market bind the hands of the operator, making it harder to get extra power into the system precisely when it's needed and avoid local "load shedding".

The NSW energy minister, Don Harwin, encouraged residents to save energy by turning air-conditioning up to 26C, adjusting fridge temperatures, switching off unused electrical appliances and turning off lights where it was safe to do so.

  • Leroy Wright