South Australians were advised to switch off non-essential appliances and conserve electricity after a fire at an Adelaide power station knocked out a substantial portion of the state’s electricity generation capacity on Friday.
The incident followed a string of controversies over the reliability of the state’s power supply dating back to September last year when extreme weather resulted in a state-wide blackout.
Friday’s blaze cut three units at the Torrens Island Power Station from the network at about 3.30pm. Nearby Pelican Point Power Station also tripped at the same time but did not suffer blackouts.
Shortly before 8pm, Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis informed residents via social media that households could resume normal electricity use.
Just been informed by @AEMO_Media that households can resume normal use of all their appliances. Thank you SA!
— Tom Koutsantonis (@TKoutsantonisMP) March 3, 2017
Torrens Island is the state’s largest power generator, with a total of eight gas-fired units that generate up to 1,280 megawatts, the ABC reported.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) directed additional generation to meet demand.
An AEMO spokesman asked consumers to conserve electricity where possible to avoid the need for load shedding; for example, running air conditioners at a higher temperature of about 26 degrees.
Mr Koutsantonis said there were no immediate reports of injury at the Torrens Island site.
The Metropolitan Fire Service sent four fire units to the facility but staff managed to extinguish a series of spot fires before they arrived to the scene of the blaze.
The loss of generating capacity in SA prompted the spot price of electricity to surge to the maximum limit of $14,000 a megawatt hour.
The incident came soon after the AEMO issued a warning for potential blackouts over the weekend due to planned work on a transmission line in Victoria.
The AEMO spokesman said supplies were expected to be sufficient but there would be a lack of reserve power for almost 12 hours on both Saturday and Sunday.
If there was an issue with the network during the planned outage of the Moorabool to Mortlake line, then South Australia could separate from the rest of the National Electricity Market with likely interruptions to power supplies, he said.
“There are sufficient capacity reserves in the South Australia region to meet electricity demand,” the spokesman said in a market notice on Friday.
“But following the next credible contingency it may not be possible to bring the required additional capacity into service in time to avoid automatic under-frequency load shedding.”
Part of the reason for SA’s continued energy woes this week was due to the hot weather, with Adelaide sweltering through five days in the mid to high 30s.