By Michael Giles
FEARS of a power Armageddon, with temperatures last Saturday in Victoria due to top the 40 degree mark, and higher still in New South Wales, largely didn’t eventuate.
It has been reported that 2000 homes in the Latrobe Valley were without power, several hundred homes in Yarram were still without power on Monday morning this week and there was a short-term power outage at Inverloch and part of Cape on Saturday.
So it wasn’t a disaster, unless of course you were one of those without power.
And the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) actually says Australia is in better shape this summer to meet peak demand than it was last summer when Hazelwood was still operating.
It does however say that the real test is still coming, probably in February when everyone has gone back to work, the schools are up and running again and it’s all systems go, if you like.
If we have another day like Saturday early in February, when temperatures are still capable of going past 40 degrees again, that’s when we’ll see if there’s enough power.
So there’s still a high degree of anxiety within the community, especially in the older age bracket, not only of power failing on hot days but also the high cost of running appliances, especially air conditioners, with power prices so high.
It’s something that needs to be addressed by government – with real and immediate information about the state of power supplies, with education about how industry and homeowners can help with efficiency practices, and with a proper national power plan that is fully supported by both sides of government and all states.
It’s an absolute disgrace that a country with such incredible resources, including all the renewables; solar, wind, wave, hydro etc has been allowed to come to this shocking impasse.
Of course it’s symptomatic of our adversarial two-party system of government which doesn’t allow progress on even the most basic of infrastructure requirements or proper accountability by the departments and highly-paid government executives charged with the responsibility to plan and implement the necessary improvements in a timely manner.
Of course there’s a lot that householders can do given the right encouragement and simply turning up the thermostat on your air conditioner from 20 to 24 degrees for the three hours during peak demand (between 4pm and 7pm) can help relieve a lot of pressure on the grid.
Not turning on the dishwasher until after 8pm, programing appliances to operate between 11am and 2pm (low daily demand), and switching off the pool pump (if you’re lucky enough to have one) between 4pm and 7pm will also have an impact.
If there was encouragement for us all to have solar on the roof, it would also help too but that needs to be tied into an overall plan to have the baseload back-up for when renewables fail.
A comprehensive power infrastructure improvement plan would also generate jobs and, in the future, low-cost energy for industry which equals more jobs. It’s a no brainer.
What it needs, of course, is leadership and that’s one resource that is sadly lacking in this country.