LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The majority of the 29,000 residents of Alice Springs were without power on Easter Sunday after a cable fault in the Desert Springs and Mount Johns area.
This is the second time in 10 days major power outages have affected the Alice Springs network. We praise the PowerWater (PWC) and Territory Generation (TGen) front line workers for their dedication and expertise which ensured a timely restoration of supply, but we have major concerns about future reliability of the Alice power supply.
Concerns relate to the ability of the new Owen Springs Power Station (OSPS) to consistently maintaining supply to the network without the Ron Goodin Power Station (RGPS) being available. There are also questions remaining around the Battery Energy Storage System’s (BESS) actual functions.
We are disappointed that TGen and the Government were failing to respond to workers’ concerns about the compressed timeline for the closure of RGPS.
This blackout and the previous blackout show clearly that without backup of Ron Goodin Power Station (pictured), the Alice would have been stuffed.
Without RGPS being available as it is currently we have no idea how long Alice Springs residents would have been without power after both these recent events.
The planned closure of RGPS has been in the news for some two years with the new OSPS being constructed.
Major delays on bringing OSPS online (over 12 months) see it still in a commissioning stage with reliability testing being undertaken.
Our operators on the front line have grave concerns about the timelines and criteria TGen have in place for the closure of RGPS.
We also question the timing of the testing that is being undertaken. The current testing doesn’t see the peak seasonal loads affecting the system, the network is not being tested in true Central Australian conditions.
Alice Springs is a fairly unique “island” system, meaning unlike many other areas there is no other generation capacity that can be tapped into to supply it.
Our operators want to ensure that before RGPS is eventually shut down that every measure has been taken to prove the reliability of the new station at Owen Springs, Alice Springs residents deserve no less.
The ETU believes that TGen’s financial position is also putting extra pressure on timelines. Alice Springs residents should not be a political football, they deserve reliable electricity like all other Territorians.
The financial situation TGen has got itself into should not even be a factor when it comes to keeping the lights on for Territorians.
Dave “Strawbs” Hayes
ETU NT Organiser
UPDATE April 24: Statement from Territory Generation.
On April 23, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) called for an extended reliability run period for the Owen Springs Power Station (OSPS) prior to the closure of the Ron Good in Power Station (RGPS).
Territory Generation has commissioned the new OSPS generators. Nine of the 10 generators have completed their System Control code compliance testing. Rigorous testing has been undertaken to ensure a high level of reliability and system security from the new generators at OSPS.
Power outages which occurred on April 11 and 21 are being investigated.
The event on April 11 was a result of the ongoing testing process for the new unit which has not completed the code compliance testing.
This is part of the embedding process for the new generation units and reasonable contingencies are put in place to ensure impacts of unforeseen events such as the one experienced on April 11 are minimised.
Having RGPS running during this testing and embedding period is an important part of the contingency support and RGPS will be kept on standby for as long as required until these units are proven reliable.
The event on April 21 was caused by a Power and Water electricity network fault. This incident was unrelated to the testing or embedding of the new generators at OSPS.
Territory Generation is committed to providing a secure power system for Alice Springs.