Fed government optimistic east coast blackouts can be avoided

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was forced to use emergency powers to direct generators to pump more electricity into the network yesterday to avoid forecast supply shortfalls in New South Wales and Queensland.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen is confident the east coast can avoid blackouts and load shedding today, despite further dire warnings about the demand for electricity outstripping supply.

Mr Bowen said power outages could be prevented, “AEMO, working with us, working with the states, has avoided any load shedding to this point, and I have confidence they will be able to continue to do that, subject to any further unexpected outages,” he said.

“AEMO is actually working pretty hard to keep the generators putting into the system, and using their powers when necessary as they did yesterday.

“No doubt they will again to ensure that we can avoid that load shedding where possible.”

The AEMO has issued more warnings of electricity shortfalls for outages over the next two days affecting the eastern states.

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from ABC 

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen is confident the east coast can avoid blackouts and load shedding today, despite further dire warnings about demand for electricity outstripping supply.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was forced to use emergency powers to direct generators to pump more electricity into the network yesterday to avoid forecast supply shortfalls in New South Wales and Queensland.

Households in the two states were being urged to conserve electricity yesterday evening.

The AEMO has issued more warnings of electricity shortfalls in five states for outages over the next two days, including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

This is forecast to impact Queensland from 4:30pm until midnight and NSW from 5pm to midnight.

The potential power interruptions forecast for Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria are from 6:30pm to 7:30pm from tomorrow.

Despite that, Mr Bowen said power outages could be prevented.

“AEMO, working with us, working with the states, has avoided any load shedding to this point, and I have confidence they will be able to continue to do that, subject to any further unexpected outages,” he said.

“AEMO is actually working pretty hard to keep the generators putting into the system, and using their powers when necessary as they did yesterday.

“No doubt they will again to ensure that we can avoid that load shedding where possible.”

Price caps for wholesale electricity prices have been implemented across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia following prices soaring – however, that has prompted some concerns generators may refuse to put electricity into the network because they are unable to cover costs.

That situation can prompt further intervention from the AEMO, which can direct generators to keep operating in return for compensation.

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Mr Bowen said the strain on the energy network was being fuelled by the cold snap hitting the east coast, and some coal-fired power stations being offline.

“This is, if you like, a cycle of events — some of which are predictable,” he said.

“We know some of the outages that are coming. Some of them are unpredictable.

But, speaking on Channel Seven, Mr Bowen warned the country was in line for a “bumpy” winter.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said AEMO would keep using its powers as long as it was necessary.

“They’ll continue to intervene to ensure, as much as is possible, that the system can continue to operate,” he said.

NSW residents urged to monitor power use

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean insisted blackouts could be avoided, but urged people to monitor their power usage.

“We’re not telling people to turn off the heaters, we’re not telling people to turn down their air conditioners or anything like that,” he said.

“But people should just be conscious that where they can reduce their use of electricity, that’s a good thing for them.”

He described the current crisis as an example of “market failure”.

Last week Commonwealth, state and territory energy ministers met to discuss the energy concerns hitting much of the east coast, including soaring prices and demand for gas.

Ministers have asked the Energy Security Board (ESB) to develop an energy capacity mechanism, which would require the energy retailers to pay power providers to maintain extra capacity in case it was needed.

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