Victoria warned of 72 days of potential blackouts


Victoria's Hazelwood Power Station is due to be closed by Wednesday, 29 March. Image: Peter Gardner

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has warned that Victoria could face 72 days of power supply shortfalls over the next two years, following the shutdown of the Hazelwood plant next week.

According to AEMO, the shutdown of the Hazelwood plant, which supplies up to a quarter of Victoria’s power, could lead to breaches of the minimum energy reliability benchmark next summer. Its data shows 72 days of potential power “reserve shortfall”.

The figures also show that Victoria and South Australia will be forced to rely on imported power from NSW and Tasmania, despite the fact that there may not be much power available. 

 According to AEMO, Victoria may only be able to import limited power from NSW, with Snowy Hydro’s two power plants are nearing maximum capacity. 

Matthew Warren, chief executive of the Australian Energy Council said Victoria’s energy security is looking increasingly fragile. The prediction of 72 days of possible reserve shortfall is unprecedented in recent history, according to Warren.

“Under high demand conditions, being able to maintain reliable supply without blackouts or load shedding for industrial customers requires a lot of things to go right,” he told The Age.

 “There has to be a lot of available power from Tasmania and Snowy hydro, and most [generation] units will have to function and operate at maximum capacity.”

Energy experts have also raised concerns that the unreliable energy supply and rising power prices associated with Hazelwood’s closure will lead to job losses in manufacturing.

The first of the Hazelwood’s eight turbines is due to be turned off this Friday, with a complete shutdown by next Wednesday, 29 March.