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Outage for Basslink Cable

Note: Since publishing this article, the Basslink cable returned to service on 29 September 2019. To read more, click here.

Investigators say the latest failure in the 500-megawatt Basslink cable will render it out of action until at least mid-October.

Connecting Tasmania and Victoria, Basslink is the world’s longest submarine power cable and the outage means Tasmania is currently unable to transfer energy to and from the mainland. The cable has experienced outages in the past but unlike the 2016 undersea fault, the current failure has been traced to an above ground section on the Victorian mainland. Investigators are currently working to narrow the repair timeframe in an effort to ensure supply is restored prior to peak summer demand.

AEMO Concerns

The Basslink outage is in addition to two large facility shutdowns that have already reduced supply to the Victorian market and the retirement of older coal-fired power stations. Only days prior to the Basslink failure, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a report that highlighted the impact of major generation outages in Victoria, warning of potential supply pressure as a result of the Loy Yang A coal plant and Mortlake gas plant being closed for extensive repairs. Both plants are scheduled to return to operations in mid-December, but AEMO predicts a 30% likelihood that the Loy Yang A outage will extend over the summer and a 60% probability of the same in the case of the Mortlake plant.

While this appears to be a conservative view by AEMO, contract prices across the summer periods have already increased in Victoria as the market aims to price in the risk of these units not being returned to service on time. AEMO has highlighted the need for all available resources, including Basslink, to be available for the upcoming period of peak demand.

Demand Response Incentives

ERM Power customers may wish to consider talking to their Account Manager about the merits of joining ERM Power’s Demand Response program, which helps customers navigate the changing energy landscape and stay ahead of the game during forecast supply shortages.

Participation in demand response is voluntary but is attached to commercial incentives aimed at rewarding those businesses that reduce the amount of energy they take from the grid at peak times. Those who participate will be encouraged to reduce usage through activities such as shifting electrical loads to alternate supply, building flexibility into production schedules and using back up generation, storage or batching functions.

Basslink is due to resume normal operations in mid-October, but with the risk that repairs may extend into summer and that other supply outages may occur, customers are encouraged to consider their demand management plan ahead of the forecast peak period.

 

If you have any questions, please contact your account manager, otherwise get in touch with us.