Blackouts Avoided As Regulator Steps In


By Andrew Brown and Paul Osborne

Energy Minister Chris Bowen says steps have been taken to avoid any load-shedding or blackouts along the east coast.

A perfect storm of coal-fired power station outages, high demand due to a cold snap, and problems in the global and domestic gas markets, led to fears of blackouts in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Mr Bowen said regulators had stepped in and were confident major problems could be avoided.

“It has required AEMO (the market operator) to direct generators to bid into the market to provide the energy system with electricity,” he said.

As well, some of the biggest energy users have reduced their demand.

“I do not believe there is a likely outcome at this point that there will be any requirement for load shedding, or indeed, as I said, for blackouts,” Mr Bowen said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese earlier said issues had been brewing over a longer period.

“You’ve had a decade of neglect where we have an energy grid that isn’t fit for purpose for the 21st century,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Brisbane.

“What we find is that the consequences of the former government’s failure to put in place an energy policy is being felt right now with problems in the marketplace because that certainty wasn’t available.”

Bowen said Australians could expect a “bumpy winter”, but people should not need to turn off their heaters.

“Nobody is asking for that to happen,” he said.

But he suggested Australians look at turning off equipment such as swimming pool heaters and outside lighting.

The Australian Energy Regulator and competition watchdog are monitoring the situation for anti-competitive behaviour such as price gouging.

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