Queenslanders asked to reduce electricity consumption ahead of more potential blackouts

Published 1:32pm 14 June 2022

Queenslanders asked to reduce electricity consumption ahead of more potential blackouts
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Queenslanders are being urged to manage and reduce their electricity consumption over the coming days to help take pressure off the power grid.

The message comes after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has once again warned of more potential blackouts to households in the coming days, due to forecast supply shortfalls.

The warning means households could potentially experience power outages between 5-9pm tonight.

It follows a warning which was issued on Monday afternoon for potential blackouts that evening, however no widespread blackouts occurred.

According to Powerlink Queensland – an electricity transmission system operator owned by the State Government - the warnings are a combination of unexpected generator outages plus cool winter temperatures and high demand for electricity.

Powerlink Queensland Chief Executive Paul Simshauser says: “What we have seen over the last couple of days is very cold weather, and of course households have responded to that weather with heating loads.”

“On the supply side, we have about seven generators that are undergoing various forms of maintenance – four of those are on planned maintenance, three are doing running repairs.

“With the cold weather coming through, we have seen consumption up about 500 megawatts, or seven or eight per cent above what we would expect at this time of year, so that really is adding to the pressure across the network.”

Electricity price caps are now in place across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

This in turn has triggered a $300 megawatt hour price gap under the National Electricity Law and the National Electricity Rules.

The price cap will remain in place at least until the end of the trading day (4am tomorrow), after which it will only remain in place if the cumulative price threshold is still exceeded.

Gas supplies are sufficient however very high gas prices means AEMO has already triggered its market generation response mechanisms.

How you can save energy

According to Paul, there are plenty of ways households can manage and reduce their electricity needs.

“I think the main thing is, in the morning and evening peak, when you’re getting ready for work and school and likewise in the evening around mealtime, just be thoughtful on your electricity use,” he says.

“If you have got your airconditioner on heating mode, don’t run it in blast furnace conditions - adjust those conditions to 18-20 degrees Celsius.

“If you have any appliances in standby mode, just turn them off at the wall.

“It’s about being thoughtful – a little on the supply side and a little on the demand side – and we should be able to see this thing through.”

Queenslanders can manage their electricity usage by:

  • Considering the number of rooms being heated by airconditioners.
  • Turning off computers, TVs and other household appliances in standby mode.
  • Turning off your pool pumps and second fridges.

Commercial businesses can manage their electricity usage by:

  • Consider the amount of interior and advertising lighting used.
  • Turning off water heating systems and urns, except for food and beverage preparation and cleaning; and
  • Turning off advertising lighting and any unnecessary exterior lighting.

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