The energy market operator expects enough power in the system to avoid power outages, but NSW will face another pressure point on Thursday evening.
Unexpected outages and routine maintenance for power plants have strained energy supplies in the most populous state, with residents asking to cut non-essential use from 18 to 20 hours.
Grid pressure is expected to ease from Friday to the weekend as more power units return online.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has issued a level three lack of reserve notice in NSW. There are circumstances where energy demand exceeds supply, and controlled load shedding will be used as a last resort.
It also has full control over directing supplies of power generators to the east coast power grid, setting prices for each state in the market until further notice.
NSW is expected to get through Thursday evening, while grid pressure in Victoria and Queensland remains in better shape.
NSW Energy Secretary Matt Kean says he remains cautiously optimistic, with a large generator returning online on Thursday evening.
“Delivery terms will ease,” Kean told reporters on Thursday.
“At this stage, we are confident that there is enough spare capacity in the system to ensure that we don’t have to ask people to consider their options tonight.”
To minimize the load on the system, AEMO is asking consumers in New South Wales to temporarily reduce their energy consumption where it is safe to do so. pic.twitter.com/t87JgvObGA
— AEMO (@AEMO_Energy) June 15, 2022
Federal Energy Secretary Chris Bowen says the AEMO taking control of the market has given the best chance for it to function well for consumers.
“It means that the operator is basically deciding the best way to generate, pay for, and deliver Australia’s energy to consumers when the market just wasn’t functioning,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Bowen says the government is working on short, medium, and long-term solutions to strengthen the grid and lower energy prices.
“The problem is that not enough is being invested in renewable energy. Not enough has been invested in storage,” he said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese added that underinvestment in transmission infrastructure had also created a problem as NSW Labor leader Chris Minns attacked the state government over failed privatization.
Anthony Albanese says too much has been invested in poles and wires, leaving all governments with a problem. Photo: AAP
But Mr. Albanian says the crisis cannot be attributed to one factor.
“Ownership is only one factor, and I don’t think it can be separated from regulation and other matters,” he said.
“Part of the problem was the overinvestment in poles and wires. Some structures didn’t get the investment where it needed to be.”
While the government has tasked the market regulator with building gas reserves to help avoid future supply constraints, Mr. Bowen was less concerned when asked about coal reserves as Europe seeks to increase imports, with an embargo on Russian coal lifted in August from becomes power.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton said Labor was rushing to bring renewable energy into the system.
“You can’t rig renewable energy the way people would like right now,” he said on 2GB radio.
“Labour is currently rushing to the new system when frankly it is not at a sensible pace.”
South Australian Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said the energy crisis was due to “prolonged policy failures”.
“I don’t think the energy wars and the climate wars have served our nation very well,” he told Sky News.