22 May 2017
A special taskforce set up to examine the resilience of the state’s electricity system has recommended the NSW Government take steps to ensure we’re ready to deal with potential energy risks next summer.
New South Wales narrowly avoided power outages during extreme heatwave conditions on 10 February this year – but only after the community heeded calls from the Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin to curb consumption, and the state’s biggest industrial user, Tomago Aluminium, was directed to shed load.
The Minister established the Energy Security Taskforce to assess risks to and the resilience of our electricity system, review how we manage energy emergency events, and recommend ways to address vulnerabilities and/or improve current practices.
The Taskforce, chaired by Chief Scientist & Engineer Mary O’Kane, has today released its initial report which has found NSW is reasonably well placed to deal with reliability and security risks under ‘normal conditions’.
However, large spikes in demand and problems with supply that sometimes occur during extreme weather events, such as February's heatwave, pose challenges for our electricity system and, indeed, the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Professor O’Kane said the Taskforce has recommended the Government take steps to minimise potential risks ahead of next summer.
“There is a tremendous opportunity here for NSW to show strong leadership on what is an issue of national importance: our energy security,” Professor O’Kane said.
“There are emerging risks that require prudent and proactive planning, including the forecast of hotter, longer and more frequent heatwaves; changes to the energy generation mix; and industry concerns about fuel availability, including coal and gas,” she said.
The Taskforce has made seven formal recommendations to Government:
Professor O’Kane is joined on the Taskforce by former NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens and Dr Brian Spalding, a commissioner on the Australian Energy Market Commission. They will deliver their final report towards the end of the year.
“We’ve had really fruitful meetings and received some very useful submissions from a range of stakeholders to date. However, our work is not done yet and we’d love to hear from anyone who wants to have their say about the initial report or any longer-term issues facing our electricity system,” Professor O’Kane said.
The Taskforce will also consider analysis and recommendations from the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (the ‘Finkel Review’) which is expected in mid-2017.
For more information about the NSW Energy Security Taskforce go to: http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/energytaskforce