National Electricity Market is dysfunctional, says Tomago
Source: Financial Review 13/2/17
The chief executive of Australia's largest aluminium smelter says the national energy system is "dysfunctional" and needs an overhaul to avoid another security risk like the one that forced the Tomago smelter to cut production last Friday to avoid blackouts in NSW.
With the issue of energy security continuing to dominate Federal Parliament on Monday, Tomago Aluminium chief executive Matt Howell said it would take a week for the smelter to return to normal operations after AGL Energy asked it to curtail production by30 per cent or 300 megawatts last Friday after the heatwave hit the eastern states.
He said the massive fluctuations of spot electricity prices – which are being investigated by the Australian Energy Regulator – cannot by brushed aside as simply supply and demand in the National Electricity Market.
AGL Energy ordered Tomago to curtail production for almost four hours on Friday after the Australian Energy Market Operator (which runs the national electricity and gas market) asked the NSW government to urge consumers to cut their power use to avoid "load shedding" – a deliberate shutdown of power in part of the grid – that could lead to blackouts.
It was the first time in 10 years that the market operator had intervened in such a way in NSW.
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