Friday, March 1, 2024

Power may take days to restore in Victoria as coal-fired plant drops offline and storms damage infrastructure

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Some Victorians may be without power for days as electricity companies investigate the cause behind power outages affecting about half a million customers across the state.

One of Victoria’s three remaining coal-fired power stations shut down just after 2pm today, causing wholesale power prices to soar.

All four units at AGL’s Loy Yang A power station in the Latrobe Valley are offline. 

It’s believed two transmission towers physically collapsed, preventing them from transmitting electricity through the lines, which caused Loy Yang A to trip.

“I have met with the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator about the current unprecedented impact of extreme weather on Victoria’s power grid,” Energy Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

AGL will leave one unit offline, with the other units to come back online throughout the evening.

“Work is underway to return units back to service,” an AGL spokesperson said.

“This will take place over the next few hours in line with our safety and operational protocols, and as associated transmission line issues are resolved.”

Supply back after load shedding

When fully operational, Loy Yang A has a maximum capacity of 2,200 megawatts.

The outage comes as nearby Yallourn Power Station, owned by Energy Australia, is operating at half-capacity due to repair works.

Victorian wholesale power prices increased to $16,600 per megawatt hour this afternoon, compared to $29.61 in Queensland and $286.97 in NSW.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) started load shedding (switching customers off due to a lack of supply) in Victoria just after 2pm.

It has now resumed electricity supply to the 90,000 or so customers who were affected.

Many parts of Victoria recorded temperatures in the mid to high 30s today.

United Energy, which services Melbourne’s south-east and the Mornington Peninsula, reported nearly 51,000 customers were without power.

AusNet reported 43,000 of its customers were without power, while Citipower and Powercor had 107,000 customers offline.

Cause being investigated

The AEMO said in a statement it was investigating the cause of the power outages.

“In Victoria, the Moorabool to Sydenham 500 kilovolt transmission line tripped, multiple generators disconnected from the grid and some consumers experienced a loss of electricity supply,” it stated.

“To keep the power system secure, AEMO has directed AusNet Services to enact load shedding.

“Controlled load shedding is a mechanism AEMO uses as an absolute last resort to protect system security and prevent long-term damage to system infrastructure.” 

All four units at Loy Yang A power station have shut down.(Supplied)

It may take days for power to be restored

Citipower and Powercor spokesperson Emma Tyner said a combination of extreme temperatures, strong winds and thousands of lightning strikes were damaging electrical infrastructure.

Citipower supplies 332,000 customer connections in the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs, while Powercor supplies electricity across 64 per cent of Victoria, west of Melbourne and through central and western Victoria.

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