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SA's back-up diesel generators ready to go

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South Australia’s back-up diesel generators have been connected to the electricity grid and can be switched on 12.5 minutes’ notice, Premier Jay Weatherill announced today.

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Weatherill said the two generator locations, at the old Holden site in Elizabeth and at the desalination plant in Lonsdale, were ready to provide 276MW of energy if needed.

The leased facilities would be purchased by the taxpayer soon, the Premier said, to send a signal to the market that the Government stood behind the generators which represented the capacity of South Australians to “take control of their own energy future”.

He would not specify the cost of the lease, nor the eventual purchase, of the generators, only saying “it’s within the budget we have set”.

The Government’s energy plan will cost a total of $550 million, with its original plan allocating $360 million to a state-owned power plant.

However, today both Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis refused to detail the cost of the generators, saying it was commercial in confidence.

The Government’s plan is for the hybrid generators to operate on diesel fuel for the next two summers before being relocated to a permanent location as a “state-owned power plant operating on gas”.

The aero-derivative turbines, supplied by APR Energy, were due to be online by December 1.

“This summer, the South Australian energy landscape will look very different to last summer,” Weatherill said. “We now have our own power plant, delivering up to 276MW of additional generation when we need it.”

The Energy Minister has the power to order the generators to be turned on when needed.

When asked about how diesel generation sits with his Government’s commitment to clean energy, Weatherill pointed to Australian Energy Market Operator statistics showing the penetration of renewable energy in South Australia was above 48 per cent.

“SA’s credentials in relation to renewable energy are unquestioned,” he said.

While the Government originally promised that the government-owned power plant would not be used to intervene in the market, Weatherill warned today that the Government “won’t hesitate to intervene” if there was “misbehaviour” from private players in the energy market.

– InDaily

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