court room

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has launched federal court proceedings against Adelaide’s Pelican Point Power Limited (Pelican Point) after alleged breaches of the National Electricity Rules (NER) in 2017 caused the power system to become unstable, resulting in blackouts.

The AER alleges that, for a number of months prior to 8 February 2017, Pelican Point failed to disclose to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) complete information about the physical plant capability at Pelican Point Power Station that could be made available on that day with 24 hours’ notice.

The “projected assessment of system adequacy” (PASA) obligations in the National Electricity Rules require certain generators to submit to AEMO details of physical plant capability available in a particular period, including any physical plant capability that can be made available on 24 hours’ notice in that period.

On 8 February 2017, South Australia was experiencing heatwave conditions which resulted in high customer demand and reduced generation capacity. In the late afternoon, the power system in the region was not in a secure operating state for over 30 minutes.

AEMO declared an actual “Lack of Reserve Level 3” event and directed an interruption of customer supply in order to restore power system security.

AER Chair, Paula Conboy, said the AER alleges that Pelican Point did not disclose to AEMO that one of the generators at its Pelican Point Power Station was capable of being made available on 24 hours’ notice.

“We allege that until late in the afternoon of 8 February 2017, AEMO was unaware it had the ability to issue a direction to Pelican Point to make the full capacity of Pelican Point Power Station available. As a result, AEMO’s ability to manage power system security was impaired,” Ms Conboy said.

“Accurate generator capacity information is critical for AEMO to manage power system security including, if necessary, by issuing directions.

“As we head into summer, it is important that generators provide AEMO with timely and accurate information about their capability to ensure that AEMO can manage system security and keep the lights on for Australian consumers and businesses.”

The AER is seeking declarations, penalties and costs.

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