Adelaide was plunged into darkness for several hours but other areas were without power for days. (AAP: David Mariuz)
South Australia’s biggest power provider, AGL, has issued a scathing assessment of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and its investigation into the cause of last September’s statewide blackout.
AEMO issued its third and final report into its handling of the blackout in March.
It blamed overly sensitive protection mechanisms in some wind farms for setting off a chain of events that led to the September 28 blackout.
In a submission to a South Australian parliamentary inquiry into the blackout, AGL questioned the process undertaken by AEMO to assess its own performance.
“AGL has significant concerns in relation to apparent discrepancies and omissions in the third AEMO report,” the AGL submission said.
AGL’s submission suggested the AEMO report:
- Incorrectly described wind intermittency as being immaterial to the events of the day;
- Attributes transmission faults to tornadoes rather than lightning strikes;
- Does not properly consider the likelihood that the slow clearance time for one transmission fault contributed to the tripping of the Heywood Interconnector;
- Potentially implied that “but for” the tripping of wind farms, the statewide blackout would not have occurred.
“AGL does not believe there has been sufficient analysis of the root causes of the Black System Event,” the company’s submission said.
AGL also questioned whether the market operator should have taken action to ensure more gas-fired generators were in operation prior to the storms that swept the state.
“The obvious question is whether AEMO should have considered the loss of one of more transmission lines a credible contingency, and consequently implemented constraints that would have had the effect of increasing indigenous thermal generation prior to the event,” AGL said.
AGL said it agreed that it was appropriate for AEMO to “self-review”, but said confidence in the “market settings and the long-term interests of consumers are best served by the independent and transparent reviews of events as significant as the Black System Event”.
“In this context, AGL observes that AEMO has not made available to the public all of the relevant data and information upon which its findings and conclusions have been based.”
AEMO breached duty of care: Small Business Commissioner
In a separate submission to the blackout inquiry, South Australia’s Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, said AEMO failed in its duty of care to the state by allowing the statewide blackout to happen.
“I believe that the Black System Event of 28 September 2016 can readily be viewed through the prism of negligence, including what would seem to be an obvious breach of AEMO’s duty of care to the consumers of South Australia,” Mr Chapman said.
Mr Chapman also questioned the point of AEMO being responsible for investigating the so-called “system black”.
“AEMO is engaged in the process of investigating itself — a situation that I would describe as both flawed and pointless.”