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Regulator says enough electricity for weekend

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Australia’s energy regulator says it expects there to be enough electricity supply to satisfy national demand over the weekend, after days of crisis in which it suspended the market for the first time.

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The Australian Energy Market Operator said while issues remain in the sector, conditions have improved.

“AEMO can confirm sufficient electricity supply can be made available to meet forecast demand over the weekend across all regions in the national electricity market,” the operator said in a statement on Friday.

“Challenges remain in the energy sector and AEMO will continue to monitor supply levels and risks across all regions.”

It comes as the market operator suspended the electricity spot market on Wednesday in the wake of the crisis gripping the east coast.

The suspension will be reviewed daily, with the operator indicating the measure was making a difference in ensuring supply.

“Since announcing the suspension of the electricity spot market, we have seen improvements in generation availability, as reflected in our forecasts,” the operator said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there would not be a quick fix to the issue, but the government was looking at all options.

Albanese said the AEMO intervention will go on for as long as needed, but collaboration between jurisdictions would be essential in lessening the impacts of the power shortages.

“The states and territories, of course, all have a role to play,” he said.

“Gas will continue to play a role in the future as we transition, gas will be important in providing that security for the system.”

The prime minister said many of the issues in the energy system were due to the division in the previous coalition government.

“You can’t fix 10 years of denial and delay in just 10 days,” he said.

“We find ourselves in a situation whereby the grid isn’t fit for purpose for the 21st century, we haven’t had the investment we need in new energy.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said while states and territories should have their own energy policy, a united approach was essential.

“There’s always a role for the Commonwealth to have a coordinating approach when it comes to every jurisdiction, because every jurisdiction has different challenges and different needs,” he told reporters.

“National cabinet certainly has a role to play. Obviously, each state has different challenges in relation to energy.”

It comes after the state’s energy minister Matt Kean was granted emergency powers to direct coal to energy generators.

The powers were granted as a precautionary measure in an effort to ensure power supply.

NSW energy consumers were told earlier this week not to turn on heavy appliances between 6pm and 8pm in an effort to conserve energy and take pressure off the grid.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while the energy system was complex, gas reserves in the state have opened up.

“Unfortunately, NSW and Victoria haven’t opened up their gas reservations,” she said.

“We’re energy-rich and our coal companies have had record prices.”

The peak body for power generators, the Australian Energy Council rejected claims of profiteering from recent market conditions.

Council chief Sarah McNamara said extreme conditions in the national electricity market in recent weeks led to the automatic imposition of a wholesale price cap last Sunday.

The cap “seriously interfered” with the market’s functioning, she said, which ultimately forced AEMO to suspend the market on Wednesday with aim of resetting it.

“When the cap was applied, generators and large-scale batteries were faced with difficult decisions on how to operate,” she said.

“Some withdrew their capacity from the normal dispatch process but remained available to be directed back into the market by AEMO.”

-with AAP

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