Australia’s Energy Market Operator Warns of Blackouts — Here’s How You Could Be Affected


Australia’s ongoing energy crisis appears to be worsening with reports from the nation’s energy grid management organisation that five states could face blackouts starting from tonight, Tuesday 14 June.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, or AEMO, has released an update on the situation saying that “maximum power load interruptions” could be experienced in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania over the coming days.

The AEMO manages the National Electricity Market, the Wholesale Electricity Market and the Victorian gas transmission network and they regularly give updates on the state of the national power supply.

They have said that they are currently negotiating with governments, industry, and power generation owners to try and pick up the slack in expected electricity supply shortfalls that are expected to hit particularly hard in Queensland and New South Wales.

These shortfalls — essentially, not enough power in the grid — are expected to reach those states this evening from around 5pm so, if you’re reading this and the lights go out, now you know why.

Power has become so expensive as of late due to ongoing global uncertainty and disruptions that the AEMO has had to step in and put a cap on the price that generators are allowed to sell electricity wholesale to suppliers.

The cap is a mandated National Electricity Grid rule of $300 per megawatt-hour and is currently effective in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The AEMO has said that the price cap “will remain until cumulative wholesale electricity prices fall below the cumulative price threshold”.

This cap, introduced yesterday, has seen a drop in suppliers willing to sell to the grid — potentially making a loss by doing so — and so we’re now experiencing these shortfalls. The AEMO has now mandated that suppliers sell to the grid at this rate, demanding a “market response” to the lack of supply over the coming days to avoid blackouts.

What This Means for You

Aside from possibly eating sandwiches for dinner in the dark, experts are warning that customers are likely to face the brunt of the price hikes, with energy costs expected to remain high for a number of years to come.

Alinta Energy executive director Daniel McClelland has told the ABC that customers should expect power companies to pass on the rising costs of energy creation.

“If we’re going to be honest about this, it looks like these higher prices are going to persist for the next two years, if you look at what’s happening elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Consumers, especially those in Queensland and New South Wales, are being urged to consider their power usage and to limit electricity consumption as much as possible over the next few days. It’s not a great thing to have to consider but it will definitely help with your bills down the line so at least there’s some silver lining here.

AEMO is closely monitoring electricity prices and supply across the country and will continue to mandate price caps and energy demands if the threat of blackouts continues.

Update: The Yallourn Power Station Is Struggling

To make a bad situation worse, two of the Yallourn Power Station’s four generating units are currently offline. This coal-fired power plant is situated in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and typically provides a fifth of this state’s electricity. Energy Australia, the company that owns Yallourn, confirmed this yikes news when talking with the ABC. A spokesperson for this organisation stated that the power station is working at 50% capacity because of “unplanned maintenance.”

So, if you’re currently stuck in a Victorian blackout, raise a glass of wine or a finger in honour of the Yallourn Power Station’s partial death. For its failure might be a huge reason behind why your bedroom light is kaput.

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