The heatwave hitting Australia’s eastern states could set a new record for power consumption today, forcing the regulator to repeat the blackouts in South Australia on Wednesday.
As state and federal politicians rush to gain political advantage as the bicker over the cause of the South Australian blackout which saw up to 90,000 homes without power for 30 minutes, the national regulator has warned the problem will shift east today and it may be forced to “load shed”, switching off the power in parts of NSW and the ACT today.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says high temperatures and electricity consumption levels in South Australia and New South Wales have placed additional strain on the national power system.
AEMO says it notified generators yesterday of a “potential shortfall” in New South Wales between around 4.30pm and 6.30pm, adding that it was in discussions with the state’s generators and government “to mitigate the need for local load shedding”.
AEMO is forecasting electricity demand to reach a record 14,700 megawatts (MW) today.
The spot price for electricity, currently at $120/MWh and is expected to rise more than 100-fold to $14,000/MWh this afternoon.
“Under the National Electricity Rules, AEMO has authority to implement emergency rotational load shedding during power system emergencies to ensure the system remains secure and to avoid prolonged power outages,” it said.
The AEMO said it would use rotational load shedding is “to minimise the impact on any one group of customers, but it was not always an option.
NSW energy minister Don Harwin people to reduce consumption in a bid to reduce the risk of rolling blackouts across the state.
“Where you can please do your best to save energy – turn up your air con to 26 degrees, adjust fridge temperatures, switch off unused electrical appliances and turn off lights where it’s safe to do so,” he said.
“The Government is taking additional steps to reduce peak demand, including in Government operations. If required the networks will consider load shedding to manage peak demand.”
TransGrid has also cancelled all scheduled maintenance to ensure maximum transmission capacity.
The minister said all available generation capacity, including coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar, will be switched on today to meet demand.
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