South Australia’s government is in crisis mode this morning after another set of power cuts hit the state, this time ordered by the national energy market operator because of a generation shortage.
The order to cut power came amid blistering evening temperatures in Adelaide, which has been hit by another heatwave this week.
SA Power Networks, the distributor for the state, announced it was cutting power to thousands of people on Twitter, saying it was under instructions from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
AEMO has instructed us to commence 100MW rotational #load shedding via Govt agreed list due to lack of available generation supply in SA.
— SA Power Networks (@SAPowerNetworks) February 8, 2017
AEMO later confirmed that approximately 100 megawatts (MW) of local load shedding was ordered “to maintain the security of the power system”.
Adelaide’s Advertiser reports that when an AEMO spokesman was asked if there would be further updates today, he said: “We hope not, that’s the plan”.
Temperatures above 40C are forecast for Adelaide today. It’s expected to be even hotter further inland, with temperatures rising above 45C in some places.
Load shedding is required when power supply is insufficient to meet demand. It involves killing power to parts of a network to reduce imbalances on the demand end of the network which can damage equipment and lead to more lasting blackouts.
South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis was fuming at the decision, The Advertiser reports. “Every South Australian has a right to be angry. We had spare capacity in the SA generation market and the market didn’t turn that generation on.”
He added: “The second unit at Pelican Point (power station) could’ve been turned on last night, it had gas, was ready to go and it wasn’t turned on. The national market isn’t working,” he said.
“We (the State Government) have been taking advice from the market operator and others but after last night we have to reassess. We will do what’s necessary to make sure SA has sufficient generation.”
However, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has this morning blamed the SA Labor government’s pursuance of renewable energy generation through wind farms.
“Of course they (the SA Government) want to blame it on everybody else. Well, I suppose they can blame it on the wind because it wasn’t blowing yesterday,” Turnbull said.
“But you know something, in SA which does have a history of heatwaves, when they have the biggest heatwave there’s no wind. And when there’s no wind, all their windmills are not generating electricity and they haven’t planned for that.
“The Labor Party, driven by ideology, is putting Australian households and businesses at risk.”