1 million without power in Australia - a power struggle?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Deregulation / Restructuring Discussion: - Energy Utilities in the 21st Century : One Thread

I don't know enuff about the US electric industry to make a judgement on the parallels with the Australian electric industry, but for your edification (cross posted from another forum), please read the following. The commentary at the end is from the guy down under who originally posted the piece.

STORY LINK More cuts after a day of chaos 04feb00 Melbourne

VICTORIA faces another day of blackouts and scorching heat with power cuts plunging the state into chaos.

Soaring temperatures, strike action and a spate of generator breakdowns left 386,000 homes and a million people without power as electricity was rationed yesterday. The wave of snap blackouts rolled across about 100 suburbs and country towns and more cuts are on the way with today's temperature expected to hit 39deg.

Victorians are being asked to turn off air conditioners, dishwashers, video recorders, swimming pool filters and reduce lighting and hot water usage.

(rest of article snipped, click on the link above for the Full Monty.)


Comment: Last night on TV interview a representative of the power utility multi-national that owns and runs power generation etc. threatened to take shareholders funds overseas to a better investment climate....

Regards from a sweltering OZ

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

-- Big Bad John (John_Doe@not.here), February 04, 2000


Lotsa threads on this particular subject at TB2K where this article seems to have been culled from.

It looks like several things have come together at one time - abnormally high temps, a fuel shortage, strikes, and a few plants going down at an inopportune time. I'll be following this closely.

How much does it parallel the situation in the US? Hmmmm. Obviously, not much at present (it's awfully chilly here right now). But summer capacity problems are predicted again for the U.S. In any given region, it doesn't take too many base load plants to go down to cause price spikes and capacity problems. Strikes? I can't remember the last time there was a job action at a U.S. electric utility that impacted either transmission, distribution, or generation, but I'm sure someone will remind me.

Fuel supply? I don't see this as a substantial concern at the moment (I reserve the right to change my mind...). The only way I can see oil / nat gas supplies impacting capacity is in shaving peaks during the summer. Most of the domestic U.S. base load fleet is either coal or nuke or hydro. The oil / gas burners are typically smaller units that are used for peak load management (not all, but most).

-- Rick Cowles (rick@csamerica.com), February 04, 2000.

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