Adelaide’s back-up power station at Pelican Point has been turned on to provide additional capacity this evening in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of last night’s blackouts.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ordered the station to turn on a second unit to avoid a repeat of Wednesday, when temporary load shedding was ordered for 90,000 customers due to insufficient power supply.
Load shedding occurs when AEMO directs power companies to start switching off customers’ power supply because the power system is at risk of failing due to too much demand and not enough supply.
South Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis slammed AEMO for choosing not to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point on Wednesday.
“AEMO admitted that they got their demand forecast wrong in SA, and when they realised that, it was easier for them to load shed customers than turn new generators on,” he said.
Three generators down with technical issues
But Mr Koutsantonis also revealed that three generators were out of action due to technical issues.
“There was communication problems on Eyre Peninsula, which meant 75 megawatts of Port Lincoln baseload generation could not be dispatched into the system,” he said.
“There was a failure at Torrens Island, which is being repaired, and another generator had some problems.
“Tonight we should be OK unless something dramatic happens, like an accident or some kind of weather event.”
AEMO executive general manager of stakeholders Joe Adamo said they did not have enough time to switch on the plant yesterday.
“We didn’t want to overcook that which would have meant that we had a major power system issue over two jurisdictions,” he said.
But Mr Koutsantonis said AEMO was able to give New South Wales two days’ notice ahead of load shedding whereas SA was given almost nothing.
He said the country’s market and its operator were not working and change was required.
Mr Koutsantonis pledged to use the State Government’s budget surplus to address the issue.
“We will be using money to intervene in the national electricity market in South Australia,” he said.
“We’ll be using our sovereign rights as a government to protect our citizens from this national electricity market.”
Opposition blames wind energy
Opposition energy spokesman Dan Van Holst Pellekaan said SA’s had an over-reliance on wind energy, which led to the power failure.
“Yesterday it was not windy, which means that we did not have enough generation online yesterday, and that is actually the responsibility of the Government,” he said.
“The State Government provides permission for every single wind-farm that is developed in SA, and they’ve provided too many of those permissions.”
AEMO has warned that a forecast potential shortfall of power in New South Wales on Saturday, could lead to load shedding in that state if the market did not respond.
The country’s power generation is under significant strain due to a heatwave covering large parts of Australia.