CEC media release

SA blackout caused by voltage drop following storm wipeout of power lines

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Major voltage problems across the South Australian power system following the damage to three transmission lines means a blackout was inevitable no matter what generation was running at the time, according to an updated report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The AEMO report states: “Five transmission line faults, resulting in six voltage disturbances on the network, led to the SA region black system".

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the damage to more than 20 electricity pylons and three transmission lines during the once-in-50 year storm remained the main cause of the blackout.

“The reality is that South Australia’s electricity system went through one of the largest power system disturbances ever seen in the country at the end of last month,” Mr Thornton said.

“On the current information available, the damage to the transmission system was the main cause of the event. No power grid in the world is designed to manage the rapid consecutive collapse of three major transmission lines like the SA system sustained on 28 September.

“No evidence has been provided to show that the system would have remained up and running if wind farms in the state had not tripped off to protect themselves in an unsafe electrical environment.

“There is obviously a lot to learn from all facets of the event, from the operation of the interconnector to the robustness of the transmission network, the re-start procedures, the planning prior to the extreme weather and the operation of power generators.

“The wind industry is committed to working with AEMO to look at current standards and operating procedures and whether these need to be refined,” he said.

Mr Thornton said while the network operator was able to re-start South Australia’s power relatively quickly given the serious damage to the transmission system, many processes and procedures did not go to plan.

“The review of power system security led by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is a good opportunity for an independent look at every link in the chain, and to work out how our power system can be strengthened in the future,” he said.   

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.

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