Pelican Point taken to court for summer blackout

Pelican Point Power Limited (Pelican Point) has been taken to court by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) over alleged breaches of the National Electricity Rules (NER).

The AER alleges that, for a number of months prior to 8 February 2017, Pelican Point failed to disclose to AEMO complete information about the physical plant capability at Pelican Point Power Station that could be made available on that day with 24 hours’ notice.

On 8 February 2017, South Australia was experiencing heatwave conditions which resulted in high customer demand and reduced generation capacity. In the late afternoon, the power system in the region was not in a secure operating state for over 30 minutes. 

AEMO declared an actual “Lack of Reserve Level 3” event and directed an interruption of customer supply in order to restore power system security.

AER Chair, Paula Conboy, said, “The AER alleges that Pelican Point did not disclose to AEMO that one of the generators at its Pelican Point Power Station was capable of being made available on 24 hours’ notice.

“We allege that until late in the afternoon of 8 February 2017, AEMO was unaware it had the ability to issue a direction to Pelican Point to make the full capacity of Pelican Point Power Station available. As a result, AEMO’s ability to manage power system security was impaired.

“Accurate generator capacity information is critical for AEMO to manage power system security including, if necessary, by issuing directions.

“As we head into summer, it is important that generators provide AEMO with timely and accurate information about their capability to ensure that AEMO can manage system security and keep the lights on for Australian consumers and businesses.”

The AER is seeking declarations, penalties and costs.

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