Blackouts looming?

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By ERWIN CHLANDA

Out of the public’s view, industrial action is continuing in the government owned company that provides electricity for the NT, Territory Generation, according to Dave “Strawbs” Hayes, of the Electrical Trades Union.

He says: “For example, when the gas feed to the generator engines is interrupted they switch to diesel which is far more expensive, amounting to millions of dollars a year.

“The fuel supply needs to be switched back to gas but operational staff delay that to make a point in the endless wages, conditions and control dispute.”

As the switch to renewables is becoming urgent, with the 50% target by 2030 around the corner, the management of the energy sources (Owen Springs and Ron Goodin power stations, using non-renewables, and Uterne, the solar array south of The Gap) remains cumbersome.

Decisions are made in Darwin, Alice Springs and the USA (where Uterne is owned and operated from), often several times a day. 

“This also affects the efficiency of management of outside tradies,” says Mr Hayes.

Sophisticated cloud sensing equipment is still not available.

The 10 Jenbacher generators, installed at the Owen Springs industrial area at a cost of $90m during the Giles Government, are not fit for purpose.

“There is still further testing required to see if they can operate as intended, four years on from installation,” says Mr Hayes.

The BESS battery bought for $8m four and a half years ago is still not working. It is meant to store power that can bridge drop-outs.

The Ron Goodin power station (pictured at top) at the edge of the posh golf course residential estate is still in use.

“The running of electricity generation in Alice Springs is in the hands of five people, most or all of whom are approaching retirement,” says Mr Hayes. “Training of successors is lagging.”

We are seeking comment from Territory Generation.

UPDATE August 1, 2023

TGen provided the following statement today:

Territory Generation remains confident in our assets, people and partners to maintain a secure power supply in Alice Springs.

Our Enterprise Agreement negotiations have drawn to a close with positive outcomes. The ballot conducted by the Electoral Commissioner resulted in a large majority in favour of the new Enterprise Agreement, which will be submitted for approval by Fair Work Australia.

The Ron Goodin Power Station is available to provide capacity and essential system services, supported by suitable maintenance and succession planning strategies.

Our Battery Energy Storage System is online and provides additional network stability. The highly fuel-efficient Jenbacher units are dispatched daily, powering the network. Solar forecasting tool, SolCast, is available to optimise generation requirements.

Utilising these technologies and others, we will continue to adapt our energy solutions to meet requirements for the transition to renewables and serve the Alice Springs community.

1 COMMENT

  1. Why when virtually every electricity network in Australia have BESSs working is this one idle? Perhaps some more retirements would help.

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