THE state government has slammed the management of the national electricity grid after Bendigo was put at risk of an energy blackout in early February.
Reports emerged recently that parts of regional Victoria may have been forced to endure a temporary blackout in order to support NSW’s power grid, which was wilting under the pressure of an extended February heatwave.
And while the system scraped through, with potential blackouts avoided, questions remained over why Victoria’s energy supply was compromised.
Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said on February 10, Victoria was supplying large volumes of electricity to support NSW as it struggled through the heatwave.
“On Friday afternoon (February 10) I spoke to AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) who said they were going to risk interrupting electricity supply in western Victoria (Bendigo and Ballarat) to make sure NSW could keep the lights on,” she said.
“I made it very clear that our government would not tolerate AEMO prioritising NSW over Victorian customers.
“We've continued to call on the Commonwealth to address the issues with the management of our electricity grid but they're wasting their time on their obsession with expensive coal pipe dreams and an ideological war on renewable energy.
“There are serious questions that need to be put to AEMO and Josh Frydenberg (federal minister for resources and energy).
“How does AEMO operate when there is a crisis? How are these decisions made?
“What is being done to equip AEMO to deal with these extreme weather events?
“Let's be clear, NSW is a fossil fuel dependent state, you cannot blame this event on renewable energy.
“It's time to stop wasting time with political games, we need to identify the issues and get on with the job of fixing the network.”
State member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said Bendigo was put at risk of an energy blackout due to the state government’s punitive management of its power stations.
“This is a government not ensuring that Victorian's are being adequately supplied for”, said Ms Lovell, who suggested the government’s dramatic royalty ‘tax’ on brown coal power plants would impact local reserves.
The royalty rise, estimated by the Victorian government at $252 million over four years, coupled with the impending closure of the Hazlewood coal mine in the La Trobe Valley in March, left Victorians vulnerable, according to Ms Lovell.
“This government has done everything it can to shut these supplies without having an alternative energy source,” she said.