NSW and ACT warned the power could be turned off sooner than predicted

Coogee Beach, Sydney. Photo: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

Blackouts could hit New South Wales as early as 3.30pm today has electricity demand soars as temperatures rise across Australia’s east coast

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has revised its forecasts for this afternoon, saying it may need to switch off the power in parts of the NSW and the ACT an hour earlier than previously predicted to cope with the increased demand.

The AEMO expects “tight electricity supply conditions” for the country’s most populous state between 15:30 and 17:30 AEDT, “which may trigger the need for localised load shedding to rebalance the power system and protect the region’s electricity network from long-term and/or prolonged damage”.

“Load shedding” means blacking out regions to reduce demand.

Whether load shedding is required depends on a combination of factors during the forecast evening peak demand period, including electricity consumption levels, weather temperatures and supply availability,” the AEMO said.

“If consumers can safely reduce their electricity consumption during periods of high demand, this can ease the supply/demand balance and can mitigate the need for load shedding.”.

On Tuesday, the AEMO ordered load shedding blackouts in South Australia, sparking a political war of words over energy policy between the state Labor and federal Coalition governments.

The AEMO said it will monitor energy supply and demand across the national market and publish any updates when required.

Meanwhile, a total fire ban is in place for NSW for the weekend, as fire crews battle fires in several locations across the state.

UPDATE: It looks like there was unintentional load shedding: 11,000 customers in Sydney’s inner west lost power this afternoon due to a fault.

Which may in part explain why demand wasn’t as high as AEMO predicted. The spot price of power spiked to just under $8000/MWh – just over half the maximum price – at 5pm, but fell back down to around $2000/MWh by 5.30pm.

Source: AEMO

And it looks like NSW has escaped the worse:

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