‘Significant pressure’: NSW faces another day of power crisis

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Power supplies remain under “significant pressure”, with governments warning that blackouts are still possible.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen said he was confident widespread blackouts would be avoided, following Wednesday’s unprecedented intervention in the national energy market.

But the crisis is far from over, with millions of NSW residents urged to save power for another day.

Queenslanders and Victorians were also warned of likely shortages on Thursday night, as the South Australian government threatened to halt energy exports from the state in the event of a power outage.

“The NSW network will be under significant pressure between 6pm and 8pm tonight,” Mr Bowen said on Thursday.

“Everyone is working all day to avoid load shedding this evening. We are convinced that we can avoid breakdowns. We will work hard to avoid load shedding.

New South Wales Energy Minister Matt Kean said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the continuity of power supply after asking residents to reduce power consumption on Wednesday evening to prevent power outages when several coal-fired power plants failed to come online unexpectedly. He was monitoring the situation closely, as supply problems remained.

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The call to save energy in NSW came after Mr Kean spoke to the Australian energy market operator’s chief executive, Daniel Westerman, who told him that a generator at Bayswater Power Station would not come back online.

“I can advise the public that this generator will come online tonight, so supply conditions will ease,” Mr Kean said on Thursday.

“At this point, we are confident there is enough spare capacity in the system to ensure that we don’t have to ask people to consider their options tonight.

“But we are monitoring the situation closely due to changed weather conditions and the unreliability of our existing equipment.”

Australia’s energy crisis came to a head on Wednesday when the AEMO suspended the national electricity market to control runaway prices.

It was the first time it had taken such a step, and came after the AEMO said it was impossible to ensure a reliable power supply without intervention.

He had already imposed caps on wholesale electricity prices and ordered generators to continue producing electricity to supply states such as NSW and Queensland.

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Mr Bowen said the suspension would be reviewed daily and he did not believe it would last all winter.

“I was very clear with the general manager of the operator. He has my full support for any action he deems necessary. The government will support the operator and regulators 100%,” he said.

“This intervention will not be lifted a day earlier than necessary, in his judgment.”

Mr Bowen and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet industry leaders later on Thursday to try to resolve the crisis.

Elsewhere, Mr Kean also criticized power generators for not being clear about their available capacity.

“A number of generators have tried to game the system,” he said.

“They haven’t been clear on what capacity they have.

“My message to producers needs to be very clear – stop putting your profits before people.”

Mr. Kean spoke with energy companies overnight to encourage them to work with AEMO to bring their capacity online, especially during peak demand periods.

Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival has not been affected by the call to reduce energy consumption as it uses energy efficient LED lights.

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Mr Kean advised consumers to upgrade their appliances to energy-efficient systems to reduce bills and reduce the strain on the system.

He acknowledged that public establishments, including hospitals, had been asked to reduce their energy consumption, but this did not affect frontline services.

“What we were doing was just being mindful of our power usage, taking precautionary measures to make sure we were protecting the grid,” Mr Kean said.

Earlier, Mr Kean said the energy crisis gripping New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria showed why switching to renewables was vital.

“We need to move to new technology that will keep the lights on and bring the prices down,” he told Sydney radio 2GB.

“Right now we are relying on old technology that is unreliable.”

Existing coal-fired plants needed to be maintained while new renewable energy infrastructure was built, he said.

“We should be moving towards those newer technologies that shield us from global price shocks, shield us from unreliable equipment, and can be privately financed.”

-with AAP

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