Regulator says enough power for the weekend

Australia’s energy regulator says it expects there will be enough electricity supply to meet national demand over the weekend, after days of crisis in which it suspended the market for the first time.

The Australian energy market operator said that while problems remain in the sector, conditions have improved.

“AEMO can confirm that sufficient electricity supply can be made available to meet forecast demand over the weekend in all regions of the national electricity market,” the operator said in a statement on Friday.

“Challenges remain in the energy sector and AEMO will continue to monitor supply levels and risks in all regions.”

This comes as the market operator suspended the electricity spot market on Wednesday after the crisis hit the east coast.

The suspension will be reviewed daily, with the operator indicating that the measure was making a difference in guaranteeing supply.

“Since we announced the suspension of the electricity spot market, we have seen improvements in generation availability, as reflected in our forecasts,” the operator said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there would be no quick fix to the problem, but the government is looking at all options.

Albanese said AEMO’s intervention will continue for as long as necessary, but collaboration between jurisdictions would be essential to lessen the impacts of the power outage.

“States and territories, of course, all have a role to play,” he said.

“Gas will continue to play a role in the future as we transition, gas will be important in providing that security to the system.”

The prime minister said many of the problems in the power system were due to the split in the previous coalition government.

“You can’t fix 10 years of denial and delay in just 10 days,” he said.

“We find ourselves in a situation where the grid is not fit for purpose in the 21st century, we haven’t had the investment we need in new energy.”

NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said that while states and territories must have their own energy policy, a united approach is essential.

“There is always a role for the Commonwealth to have a coordinating approach when it comes to each jurisdiction, because each jurisdiction has different challenges and needs,” he told reporters.

“The national cabinet certainly has a role to play. Obviously, each state has different energy challenges.”

This comes after the state’s Energy Minister Matt Kean was given emergency powers to direct coal to power generators.

The powers were granted as an injunction in an effort to secure energy supplies.

NSW power consumers were instructed earlier this week not to turn on heavy appliances between 6pm and 8pm in an effort to save energy and take pressure off the grid.

Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said that while the power system is complex, gas reserves in the state have opened up.

“Unfortunately, NSW and Victoria have not opened up their gas reserves,” she said.

“We are energy rich and our coal companies have had record prices.”

The governing body for power generators, the Australian Energy Council, has rejected profit claims from recent market conditions.

Council head Sarah McNamara said extreme conditions in the national electricity market in recent weeks led to the automatic imposition of a wholesale price cap last Sunday.

The cap “severely interfered” with the functioning of the market, she said, which ultimately forced AEMO to suspend the market on Wednesday with the aim of resetting it.

“When the cap was applied, large-scale generators and batteries faced difficult decisions about how to operate,” she said.

“Some have withdrawn their capacity from the normal dispatch process, but have remained available to be routed back to market by AEMO.”

-with AAP

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