Commission says Northern Territory grid facing blackout risk

Channel Island Power Station
Channel Island Power Station (Image: Territory Generation)

The Northern Territory’s electricity grid faces risks of blackouts within three years, according to a NT Utilities Commission report.

The Utilities Commission made similar warnings in its three previous outlook reports, with the 2022 report warning electricity demand might not be met within four years if a solution was not found to the expected retirement of 185MW Channel Island Power Station, which supplies 47% of the current capacity in the Darwin-Katherine grid.

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“The Utilities Commission has approved proposed power system incident reporting related amendments to the System Control Technical Code from Power and Water Corporation, subject to conditions,” it said in a statement.

“Under the Electricity Reform (Administration) Regulations 2000, the System Control Technical Code may make provision for any matter relevant to the reliability, safety or security of the system or the monitoring or control of the system. Under the Electricity Reform Act 2000, any amendments to the System Control Technical Code must be approved by the Commission.”

Following consultation, the Utilities Commission has approved Power and Water Corporation’s proposed amendments to the System Control Technical Code subject to the following conditions:

  • prior to the approved System Control Technical Code taking effect, Power and Water Corporation must develop the relevant Power System Reporting Guideline in accordance with clause 7.5 of the approved Code
  • Power and Water Corporation must provide sufficient written notice to system participants of the approved System Control Technical Code’s date of effect.
    The Commission has published a Decision Summary—System Control Technical Code amendments to provide information on the Commission’s decision.

Northern Territory Minister for Essential Services Selena Uibo said the NT government had been “working closely with the Utilities Commission on our electricity system planning to ensure our system security”.

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“The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan and Territory Generation’s Fleet Transition Plan, when implemented, will ensure system security and will mitigate the issues identified by the commission,” Uibo told the ABC.

“The outlook report necessarily assumes only committed electricity projects. However, as acknowledged by the commission, the NT government is planning for future generation capacity to replace planned retirement of existing gas-fired generators, as well as near-term investments in the essential services required to enable the safe commissioning of future renewable energy projects.”

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