(OT?) Australia - One million without power

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One million without power

ABOUT one million South Australians will be without power again today as the heat and industrial strife continue to cause widespread blackouts.

Almost all the metropolitan area and some country centres will have no electricity for up to an hour because of inadequate supplies. This follows a similar situation during yesterday's scorcher, when rolling cuts started at 12.45pm and finished at 4.30pm.

"Everybody in the metropolitan area was impacted on," ETSA Utilities' manager of business relations, Craig Cock, said last night.

Near-peak demand in SA and Victoria  which has been hit by strike action involving power station workers  is responsible for the blackouts.

SA relies on back-up power from Victoria, particularly during heatwaves.

Adelaide is expecting a maximum of 42 today, again placing enormous pressure on the state's main two power stations  at Port Augusta and Torrens Island  and six smaller plants.

Residents will have only 30 minutes' warning of cuts today, via radio news broadcasts. And the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) has issued a warning that further cuts might happen on Monday and Tuesday.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said any equipment failure in either state today would only worsen the situation.

"We are obviously so stretched we couldn't afford either a major plant in SA, or another plant in Victoria, to break down," he said.

He said the Victorian industrial action which had shut down one power station had created an "unusual" situation.

"I think it's further evidence of the importance of the State Government fighting for our own state generation here in terms of Pelican Point," he said.

Mr Lucas said forecast cooler weather over the weekend would take some pressure off the supply system.

"However, if further strike action was to develop in Victoria and spread beyond the one power plant, then we really are exposed to the problems Victoria had in terms of their generation," he said.

ElectraNet, SA's high-voltage electricity transmission company, initiated the cuts yesterday to help balance supply and demand.

Under its system, suburbs and major country centres are placed into 12 groups, which are cut off systematically for between 30 minutes and an hour.

Ironically, power was sold to and from Victoria and SA during the blackouts, because both states are members of NEMMCO.

ElectraNet chief executive Kym Tothill said a record demand for power of 2670 megawatts was recorded on Wednesday.

By 3pm yesterday, the demand was at 2300 megawatts, partly because of rolling cuts  or load shedding  of about 150 megawatts, and partly because customers were responding to calls to conserve power.

NEMMCO also issued a market notice yesterday advising of a "low reserve condition" in SA. It said that from 9.30am today until 10pm, the maximum deficiency was estimated to be 730 megawatts.

Acting Victorian Premier John Thwaites said power cuts would continue in his state into next week unless striking workers returned to work.

He said if the situation worsened, the government would resort to the Electricity Industry Act to introduce power restrictions across Victoria.

This would result in bans on airconditioners, dishwashers, electric tools and other products.


Swelteringly Yours,
Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 03, 2000


Voice of experience sez--
Stay in the shade.

Move as little as possible.

Think cool thoughts.

Drink cool drinks.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), February 03, 2000.

Most of the power systems of the nation must be compliant or they all go down, region by region, in one gigantic rolling blackout.

-- Powder (Powder47keg@aol.com), February 03, 2000.

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