Today’s AER decision confirms storm as main cause of SA blackout

07.08.19 By

Today’s decision from the Australia Energy Regulator (AER) further affirms that the main cause of the blackout in South Australia in 2016 was a one-in-50 year storm.

“The AER should of course ensure that all energy operators are compliant with its regulations. But the reality of a changing climate is that increasingly our electricity infrastructure will be under pressure from worsening extreme weather, like storms and heatwaves,” said Climate Councillor and energy expert Andrew Stock. 

“Almost three years on and the facts remain the same – the downing of 23 transmission towers was the principal cause of the blackout. Power simply couldn’t get down the power lines,” he said.

“The South Australia blackout just pushes home the importance of preparing Australia’s electricity grid and continuing the transition to clean, reliable renewable energy,” said Stock. 

“Learning from the events of the past is useful but focusing too much on the past isn’t particularly helpful for meeting the challenges of the future,” he said.

The AER’s December 2018 report The Black System Event Compliance Report found that “The AER considers the breaches found did not contribute to the state going black, and that all core obligations were met.”

“Supercharged storms, like the one SA experienced back in 2016, are only going to become more severe and more frequent as climate change intensifies, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas,” said Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie. 

“We’re talking about a storm that involved “supercell” thunderstorms, tornadoes and wind speeds of 270 kilometres per hour, faster than those recorded during Cyclone Tracy,” said McKenzie. 

“Almost three years on and South Australia now gets over half of its electricity from clean, reliable wind, solar and battery storage. The diversification of the electricity grid is increasing its resilience for the more extreme climate of the  21st century,” she said. 

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