NT Chief Minister announces review into Alice Springs power…

NT Chief Minister announces review into Alice Springs power...

NT Chief Minister announces review into Alice Springs power…

Updated October 15, 2019 08:05:06

A major power outage in Alice Springs has been labelled “unacceptable” by the Northern Territory Government, which has called for an independent review of the blackout.

Key points:

  • The NT Essential Services Minister criticised suppliers Territory Generation and Power and Water Corporation after the blackout
  • Power was initially restored to priority areas including Alice Springs Hospital
  • The Government expects to release a review into the outage within weeks

Thousands of residents in Central Australia went without power yesterday afternoon, with some experiencing blackout conditions for up to nine hours.

Electricity was cut across the Alice Springs region around 2:30pm yesterday and was not restored in some areas until 10:47pm.

Communities as far as Haasts Bluff were affected by the blackout, while in Alice Springs many businesses were forced to close.

NT Essential Services Minister Dale Wakefield said an investigation into the cause of the outage was underway.

“I have made it clear to the [chief executives] of Territory Generation and Power and Water Corporation that this is unacceptable,” Ms Wakefield said in a statement.

“Territorians deserve a stable and secure power system, and that is why I have called for an independent review into this incident.

“The independent review will identify and investigate any system-wide issues that led to this problem occurring and the adequacy of responses, both short and long term.”

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner told ABC Darwin Breakfast the outage stemmed from a generation issue.

“We’re not quite sure what’s happened there,” he said.

“It shouldn’t happen … there seems to be an unacceptable failure here between the battery and the gensets [generation sets].

“We should be able to handle switches between solar and gensets.”

Mr Gunner backed Ms Wakefield’s call for an independent review and said the Government would today work out a timeline for its release.

“I’ll be talking with the Minister for Essential Services this morning … we’ll be looking at the terms of an independent review into why that occurred,” he said.

Mr Gunner said he expected the review to be released within weeks.

Disgruntled union calling for change

After a separate power blackout last week, the NT Electrical Trade Union (ETU) released a statement denouncing utility company Territory Generation.

The ETU warned Alice Springs residents could face persistent blackouts during summer and expressed a lack of confidence in Territory Generation’s management.

Following the power outage Territory Generation said in a statement it was “investigating the cause of the network interruption”.

The company said it was is “transitioning from the ageing Ron Goodin Power Station to the new gas-powered units at Owen Springs Power Station to service the Alice Springs community”.

Territory Generation CEO Tim Duignan promised it would “fully investigate” the incident and make improvements to its generator system.

“We’re investigating what the issues were with regards to the cascading events that caused the system-wide outage,” he said.

Mr Duignan said while Alice Springs Hospital and about 5,000 customers were back online within 30 minutes, some people were forced to wait about eight hours for power to return.

The outage was caused by a cloud which rolled in to Alice Springs about 2:00pm on Sunday, which caused a “reasonably large increase” to the system, Mr Duignan said.

“That resulted in the majority of our units going into an overload condition,” he said.

“Those units stayed in an overload condition for a number of minutes before they tripped off on their protection systems … the battery energy storage system went to full output before it tripped off as a consequence of the outage.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, energy, business-economics-and-finance, government-and-politics, politics-and-government, forms-of-government, darwin-0800, alice-springs-0870, nt

First posted October 14, 2019 13:39:57

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