AEMO says substation fire won’t worsen energy crisis

Close-up of flames engulfing substation at Tallawarra Power Station

A fire that ripped through a Transgrid substation at Yallah on the weekend will not affect electricity supply, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said, ruling out a worsening of the energy crisis gripping the country’s east.

Supply has been stretched since mid-May in the heavily populated east, with about 25 per cent of 23,000MW of coal-fired capacity taken offline for maintenance or unplanned outages. Coal supply disruptions and surging global prices of coal and gas have exacerbated the situation.

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AEMO said on Friday there was enough electricity supply to meet forecast demand over the weekend, easing the immediate concern of potential east coast blackouts, Reuters reported.

The blaze resulted from mechanical failure in a redundant transformer, fire authorities said, with more than 60 firefighters working to bring it under control. More than 10,000L of oil caught fire, and putting out the blaze was likely to take several days.

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean said conditions in the energy market were looking strong after another power generator came back online on Saturday night.

“There is more than enough supply to meet demand for the foreseeable future, and that’s the advice of the AEMO,” Kean said.

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On Wednesday, AEMO suspended the national electricity market, taking control of supply and pricing in an unprecedented step backed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said it was needed to curb “gaming” of the system.

Since then, coal-fired generators have brought 1,900MW of capacity back on line, the Australian Energy Council has said, reducing blackout risks.