AEMO set to pull trigger on industry shutdowns

Australia’s energy market operator came close yesterday to triggering one of its emergency measures to prevent summer blackouts.

With high temperatures forecast for Adelaide, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) contacted a power-hungry South Australian metal foundry to tell it to be prepared to temporarily shut down, however, an earlier-than-anticipated cool change meant the shut-down was avoided.

Strategic shut-downs are a key part of AEMO’s plan to prevent state-wide blackouts this summer.

There are eight nominated companies with extremely high power demands taking part in the demand response trial. They could get as little as 10 minutes notice from AEMO to shut up shop and will be compensated in exchange for lightening the load on the grid.

AEMO is on high alert after criticism of its management last summer, specifically after South Australia’s statewide blackout and when power was cut to homes during a February heatwave.

In addition to the industry shut-downs, AEMO is bringing new gas generation into the energy mix.

“We’ve gone out and gotten additionally, essentially close to 2,000MW extra of resources that are going to be available to us,” chief executive Audrey Zibelman said.

“Compared to last summer we feel like we’ve done everything we can and have done all the right things to make sure the system is ready.”