Victorian gas plant delays deepen fears of summer blackouts

Source: The Age

3rd December 2019

Victoria’s largest gas power generator won’t be back online until the end of December, escalating concerns about a heightened risk of blackouts in the state this summer.

Origin Energy on Monday said the generator at its Mortlake Power Station – which has been out of action since July due to an explosion and which was scheduled to return by December 20 – would not be operational again until December 30.

The 10-day delay comes after the energy market operator warned the regular strains on the grid over summer would be exacerbated this year, with up to 1.3 million Victorian homes threatened with a higher risk of blackout, unless Origin’s Mortlake generator and another generator at AGL’s Loy Yang A power plant were repaired according to schedule.

Tony Wood, energy director at the Grattan Institute think tank, said Victoria’s supply going into summer was “uncomfortably tight”.

“People will be watching nervously, particularly if weather conditions deteriorate,” he said. But the biggest risk of summer heat waves were from January to the end of February, he said.

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