The ACT is unlikely to experience rolling blackouts this summer after narrowly avoiding load shedding earlier this year, the national power system manager has said.
The n Energy Market Operator found while Victoria and South faced a heightened risk of failing to meet the demand for electricity in the 2017-18 summer, there was no forecast risk for the NSW-ACT region.
But ACT climate change minister Shane Rattenbury acknowledged electricity supply was never 100 per cent guaranteed and said the government was “closely monitoring” preparations for the coming summer period.
To that end, the territory will this month take part in a national electricity and gas emergency exercise.
Mr Rattenbury said they’d also partnered with the NSW and Commonwealth governments to identify major electricity users in the area that could be asked to cut down should a shortage arise.
But the government may still call on the community to reduce their use, like they did earlier in the year, to reduce stress on the electricity grid and prevent a wider blackout.
“The ACT has established load shedding guidelines, if required. These guidelines would initiate rolling electricity supply outages of up to two hours across different areas of the electricity network,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“The guidelines establish an order of priority to ensure critical infrastructure such as hospitals, emergency services, Canberra Airport and water treatment facilities will not have their electricity supply interrupted, unless it was absolutely necessary and no other alternative was available to preserve the power system or ensure public safety.”
The government is also developing a communications strategy to tell businesses and residents how they can save power over summer to further reduce pressure on the electricity grid.
AEMO recommended governments look at back-up power supply options, like battery storage or generation on the grid, to lower the risk of unscheduled blackouts during peak periods.
They found the risk of load shedding in the NSW-ACT and Victoria regions is likely to increase with the closure of the Liddell power station in 2022.
However their analysis showed renewable energy generation could help maintain reliability in the grid even without strategic reserves.