South Australia has suffered another major blackout overnight, with 200,000 homes and businesses losing power.
The blackout occurred just after 1am, as a problem with the Victorian transmission network during scheduled maintenance cut the supply from the Heywood connector. According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), approximately 220 megawatts was lost, due to the need to balance the frequency of the network.
Power was restored to residences before 2.30am and the SA network connected to the national grid just after 5am.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis has assured that Victorian authorities will investigate what went wrong during the maintenance work. He has denied suggestions that SA’s use of renewables was responsible for the outage.
Andrew Dillon from AusNet has also assured that there is no link to the state-wide blackout seen in SA in October.
“There were some assets out of service for maintenance at that stage, so unfortunately the fault couldn’t have come at a worse time,” he told the ABC.
BHP Billiton was one of a number of industrial businesses that were left without power.
The company’s CEO Andrew Mackenzie issued a warning to policy-makers after the incident, which comes two months after the last blackout that resulted in two weeks of lost production at Olympic Dam.
“Olympic Dam’s latest outage shows Australia’s investability and jobs are placed in peril by the failure of policy both to reduce emissions and secure affordable, dispatchable and uninterrupted power,” he said.
“The challenge to reduce emissions and grow the economy cannot fall to renewables alone.”
Meanwhile, Koutsantonis has chided BHP for not having a back-up source of power.
He noted that the company had built back-up power at its mines across the world and “why they haven’t done so at Olympic Dam is a matter for them”.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has referred to the outage as another example of SA’s “energy crisis”.