Blackout fears delay South Australian electricity grid maintenance
Summary: The energy market operator was concerned about the work increasing the risk of SA being disconnected from the national grid at the same time there were planned generator outages and low wind forecasts. In a worst-case scenario, this could lead to SA being left without enough electricity to power the state.....
It comes as the country’s energy ministers prepare for a phone hook-up on Friday to discuss the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee and other power matters.
At the weekend, NSW had reduced backup capacity partly as a result of thick cloud cover and rain, which limited rooftop solar. But involuntary blackouts were avoided.
The Australian Energy Market Operator labelled the event a “sobering reminder” that there were risks to the power system that must be actively managed outside of the traditional summer peak.
“With the recent exit of almost 5000 megawatts of generation in the past decade, Australia does not have the energy reserves it once had to lean on in times of need,” AEMO said in a statement.
Work on the Tailem Bend to Cherry Gardens transmission line was scheduled to occur between June 28 and July 1 and rescheduled to July 11 to July 14, subject to favourable conditions.
In a notice to the energy market, AEMO advised that an unplanned outage on the Tungkillo to Tailem Bend line while the other line was out of action would “sever the 275kV connections between the NEM (national energy market) and SA”.
That would leave SA connected to the national grid on a lower-voltage network, posing a system security issue.
It would require the state to be disconnected from the east coast and rely on its own generation.
An ElectraNet spokesman said AEMO delayed the planned works because of “low wind forecasts and also the unavailability of generators to assist with supply for reasons such as scheduled maintenance”.
SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the state had been left with the least reliable and most expensive power in the nation.
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“AEMO and ElectraNet will work together closely to manage maintenance in the interim until our system returns to strength,” he said.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the Marshall Government was committed to delivering its energy solution, including another interconnector to the east coast and more grid-scale storage.
Friday’s phone hook-up is set to be the last formal discussion between energy ministers before the Turnbull Government hopes to secure sign-off on the NEG at an August meeting.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said he had had “good, positive discussions” with state ministers on the NEG.
“They’re interested in lower power prices for their constituents. They’re interested in a more reliable system for their constituents. And of course they also take our emissions reduction target seriously. All of which can be achieved through the NEG,” he said.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan would not be drawn on what issues he planned to raise on Friday.