Australia: Five States Seeing Power Disruptions as Winter Arrives

climate Liddell Power Station, left, and Bayswater Power Station, right, coal-powered thermal power stations near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, Australia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Efforts to fight climate change are being held back in part because coal, the biggest single source of climate-changing gases, provides cheap electricity and supports …
AP Photo/Mark Baker

Nearly all of eastern Australia suffered localized blackouts on Tuesday evening, with some of the power outages expected to extend into at least Wednesday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

The state-owned Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced on June 14 that nearly all of the eastern and southern regions it services would suffer blackouts to varying degrees starting around 5:00 pm AEST. The electricity outages affected the Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

“This was forecast to impact Queensland from 5pm until 10:30pm and NSW [New South Wales] from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, with further interruptions possible on Wednesday,” ABC reported.

Some suburbs of Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, reported blackouts overnight on June 13. Sydney is home to over five million people and serves as the capital of New South Wales.

“Homes in Sydney’s north and the Northern Beaches [regions] were hit with power outages on Monday night,” Australia’s 7NEWS confirmed on Tuesday.

Residences across the northern Sydney suburbs of Beacon Hill, Frenchs Forest, Narraweena, Cromer, and Dee Why all experienced temporary power outages on the evening of June 13, with some lasting all night.

Australia’s 7NEWS on Tuesday detailed some of the contributing factors that caused the multi-state power outages this week, writing:

The blackouts came after the AEMO capped wholesale prices on Sunday night, resulting in some coal and gas generators taking power plants offline.

It implemented the cap because the cost of wholesale electricity in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia has been rising too rapidly.

As a result of the cap, available energy from generators was reduced as the limit would not allow providers to cover their costs.

“AEMO is temporarily capping wholesale electricity prices, but without access to cheap Australian gas … gas plants in turn are further restricting supply,” 7NEWS further observed.

Recent flooding across the eastern Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland also contributed to this week’s power crisis, according to Australian energy market analyst David Leitch. He told 7NEWS that the natural disaster, which took place from late February to early April, inundated coal mines and severely restricted transport routes.

“The main problem across Australia is we didn’t build enough new capacity in front of the old capacity closing down,” Leitch opined, referring to eastern Australia’s dated coal power plants.

The analyst added that it was “difficult to predict how long the outages would impact the east coast, but he expects conditions will improve come spring — in about eight weeks’ time.”

Australia’s regional energy crisis has hit the continent just as it welcomes the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season from June to August.

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