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Victorian cities faced power cuts for NSW heatwave


Source: The Age 22/02/2017

As NSW suffered through its record-breaking heatwave this month, with power supplies stretched to breaking point, the head of Australia's main electricity grid faced a choice: keep the airconditioning running in Sydney, or keep the lights on in Victoria.

Tony Marxsen, chairman of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), picked up the phone to the Victorian government on the afternoon of Friday February 10 to warn that people in western Victoria might have to endure blackouts to ensure a key transmission line to NSW could keep operating at full capacity.

Underscoring the parlous state of the nation's power grid, it was a case of Ballarat and Bendigo losing electricity or maintaining supplies to the most populous state.

"Wouldn't you want to get as much as you can to the state that needs it, which is what we were doing?" said an AEMO spokesman Joe Adamo, referring to what experts believe may be the first instance of electricity "pain sharing" across state boundaries.

Mr Adamo defended arrangements that meant Victoria shared the pain to ensure key infrastructure wasn't damaged by the heavy loads, saying that was how the National Electricity Market was designed to work.

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