Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has attacked South Australia for relying on Victorian energy as power demand peaks in summer’s scorching heat.
Demand for east coast power in South Australia surged as the mercury soared last week, providing the Minister with an opportunity to reignite the nation’s energy wars.
Mr Frydenberg himself was grilled by Radio National host Frank Kelly today over repeated failures of coal and gas-fired power stations in south-eastern Australia.
Wholesale electricity prices soared Friday when Victoria’s aging Loy Yang B power station crashed, putting pressure on the grid. Victoria has a power exchange agreement with South Australia.
According to Mr Frydenberg, South Australia imported 31 per cent of its power from Victoria on Thursday. This showed the state’s lack of solar energy storage and dispatchable power.
Mr Frydenberg condemned the SA Government’s “self-inflicted wounds” in regard to the state’s energy policy.
Power demand peaks defended by Premier
As the Federal Energy Minster got on the front foot, SA’s Premier Jay Weatherill dismissed the claims as jealousy over international attention prompted by the Tesla battery.
Mr Weatherill told the Adelaide Advertiser his state was actually helping to keep the lights on in Victoria.
South Australia did draw almost a third of its electricity on Thursday night from Victoria. However, longer-term data shows SA has been a net exporter of power to Victoria every week since July 2017.
According to SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, SA’s power supply has been more reliable than coal-dependent grids in the eastern states.
The national grid operator has issued fewer supply shortage warnings for SA than NSW or Victoria, he said.
Minister says dispatchable power is key to energy crisis
Josh Frydenberg told Fran Kelly that the Tesla battery provided less than one per cent of SA’s capacity on Thursday, with wind and solar providing less than 10 per cent.
SA power prices on both Thursday and Friday were the highest in the country, he said. This proves, therefore, that SA has insufficient dispatchable power.
Fran Kelly pressed the Minister about the increasing vulnerability of Australia’s ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations. Key stations have already crashed multiple times this summer.
Mr Frydenberg said the Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is “technology neutral”.
This means power can also be dispatched from renewable sources including solar power.