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Summer power shortage looms

VICTORIA faces the risk of substantial power cuts this summer because of a lack of reserve capacity.

A report by the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) shows that by mid-December Victoria’s reserve capacity will be more than 400 megawatts less than needed.

That shortfall will last to the end of February, meaning consecutive high temperatures or a supply disruption, such as last year’s landslide at Yallourn, which cut supply by three-quarters, could result in blackouts.

NEMMCO spokesman Paul Bird said the forecast was preliminary and the situation would become clearer by October when NEMMCO produced its Statement of Opportunities.

“The reliability level for delivery needs to meet a high standard of 99.98%,” he said. “All that this means is that it falls below that high standard.

“Over the next few months we will talk to the generators and discuss when they are conducting things like maintenance. There is another update in October and that provides absolute detail and analysis on these sorts of things.”

Opposition energy spokesman Robert Clark said the State Government had been caught out and was ill-prepared for a long, hot summer.

“This report shows a big increase in energy demand, pointing to substantial shortfalls this summer,” he said. “It is concerning that the State Government has been complacent to the point where there is a real possibility of the lights going off if we have a hot summer or another incident like Yallourn.”

Dan Ward, a spokesman for Energy Minister Peter Batchelor, said Victoria could call on supplies from interstate. “We have noted this report and we will look forward to the SOO in October for further guidance,” he said.

Author: Mathew Murphy, Energy Reporter
Publisher: Fairfax
Publication: The Age, Page 2 (Fri 4 Jul 2008)