Energy sector facing tight supply conditions during heatwave

3 min

With Adelaide experiencing some of its hottest weather in 80 years, and Victoria nudging past 40 degrees, the electricity supply and demand balance is very tight in Victoria and South Australia over the next few days.

UPDATED 4:20PM 24/1/19 - Victorian and South Australian energy supply remains secure

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) confirms it has called on Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) providers this afternoon to deliver additional supply across Victoria and South Australia if the need arises. 
AEMO does not envisage any supply impact to Victorian and South Australian consumers, however with demand rising in step with the mercury, and the risk of bushfires ever present, AEMO has determined the need to increase its operating reserve by enabling additional resources to be available should market generation reserves deplete.
“We have been planning for conditions like today, by procuring strategic reserves that will bolster our ability to manage unforeseen incidents across the power system,” said Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ms Audrey Zibelman.
“AEMO has now called on these additional reserves to mitigate the risk of supply shortfalls,” said Ms Zibelman.
AEMO will continue to monitor conditions closely in both Victoria and South Australia, and more broadly across the National Electricity Market, and will provide a further update should conditions change.

Our priority as the independent market and systems operator is to ensure the ongoing secure and reliable operation of the National Electricity Market. A critical element of this is matching anticipated demand with supply (at all times) to ensure energy consumers have ongoing access to electricity and to protect the power system from damage.

Last week, the industry, together with AEMO, successfully managed operations during its first real test following an extended heatwave across southern Australia. We aim to achieve the same outcome again this week as the mercury rises in the south eastern states.

While we know that unexpected events can and do happen, particularly when the power system is under pressure from the sustained hot weather, AEMO is confident the plans we have in place and the targeted actions we have taken in collaboration with the wider energy industry and governments, have appropriately equipped us to tackle unforeseeable events the upcoming summer might bring.

As with last summer, AEMO has put in place its Summer Readiness Plan, which includes the sourcing of 941 megawatts of off-market reserves through the Reliability and Emergency Trader (RERT) mechanism. This initiative enables AEMO to have sufficient resources to manage potential high-risk scenarios that typically occur in summer, such as extreme or extended heat events such as the one occurring this week in South Australia and Victoria. Other scenarios include bushfires and/or unplanned infrastructure outages.

We continue to monitor the situation very closely this week but acknowledge that the supply and demand balance is very tight. Extreme weather (we are seeing forecasts of 37-42C in Victoria and 40C-46C in South Australia) naturally puts the power system under pressure (like any type of major machinery), particularly between the peak demand hours of 4pm – 7pm.

AEMO has the emergency resources to call on should we need them, but consumers too can play a part in carefully planning their energy usage in the coming days:

  • Lower your blinds before you leave for work in the morning
  • If you’re at home during the day, run the dishwasher or washing machine earlier in the day to avoid the 4pm-7pm peak electricity demand period.
  • You don’t have to turn off your aircon during the peak period, but you can help reduce your energy usage by adjusting the setting to 20-24 degrees instead of leaving it at 18 degrees.
  • If you have a pool, temporarily turn off your pool pump during the peak period.

AEMO continues to work closely with government, industry, emergency services and weather forecast providers to monitor and assess the situation and will call on additional resources as required to mitigate the risk of supply shortfalls. 

For a definition on what a ‘Lack of Reserve’ means, please click here.

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