New State Government powers over the electricity market are now in place, putting effective control back in the hands of South Australians for the first time since the privatisation of ETSA.
The new laws were announced by the Governor His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC at a meeting of the State’s Executive Council.
“These new laws are a crucial component of our plan to protect South Australians from a failing National Electricity Market. From today the Energy Minister will have to power to direct available generators to turn on if the market fails to prevent an electricity supply shortfall,” Acting Energy Minister Peter Malinauskas said.
The powers mean that the South Australian Energy Minister can now direct electricity generators to turn on if there is a supply shortfall.
“The State Government has not had this flexibility since the previous Liberal Government sold our electricity assets.” Mr Malinauskas said.
The Minister will also be able to direct the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to control flows across the interconnector with Victoria in order to better protect the South Australian grid.
The new laws are a cornerstone of the State Government’s plan to take charge of South Australia’s energy future.
“Along with our new gas-fired generator, the construction of Australia’s largest grid-connected battery and incentives designed to drive the production of more gas to be supplied to local generators, these laws will allow South Australians to take charge of their energy future.” Mr Malinauskas said.
The laws received bipartisan support in the Legislative Council earlier in April.
Currently, such action requires a meeting of the Executive Council and assent from the Governor of South Australia to declare a State of Emergency. These legislative changes will streamline the process so action can be taken within minutes, not hours.
The new powers will ensure every possible measure is taken to maintain the state’s electricity supply in an emergency situation or when market forces fail. The powers are for use as an option of last resort.
On 8 February, 90,000 South Australians were load-shed because AEMO inaccurately forecast electricity demand in the system and, when they realised their error, did not have enough time to direct available generation to turn on.
AEMO directed 30,000 customers be load-shed, but when carrying out that direction, SA Power Networks erroneously load-shed an additional 60,000 customers.