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Australian Energy Market Operator has 'done everything possible' to stave off summer blackouts

Australian Energy Market Operator has 'done everything possible' to stave off summer blackouts

The head of Australia's energy market regulator says the organisation has done everything possible to stave off further blackouts this summer, declaring she wants energy policy to become "boring" again.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) faced a blizzard of criticism last summer when power shortages caused mass blackouts in South Australia and put the energy grid in New South Wales under strain.

Since then, the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria's LaTrobe Valley has also shut down — taking another 1,600 Megawatts of generation capacity out of the system.

But AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said the regulator had built up reserves of energy which could be used to keep the lights on when demand peaked.

"I think we all want to make it better for Australians, we want to get back to the point where energy is boring and nobody is interested because we're doing it so well," Ms Zibelman said.

She said AEMO could deliver 800 megawatts of additional power from gas generators.

The regulator is also planning to ask big power users and utilities to cut their use of power when demand rises.

AEMO said that would allow them to pump more than 1,000 megawatts of power into the system if needed.

Still, AEMO is not guaranteeing the lights will stay on when temperatures soar.

The operator's summer readiness report said demand could be "precariously tight" if any major power generators are taken offline for maintenance.

And Ms Zibelman conceded the grid could still struggle if bushfires or other natural disasters forced several generators to shut down.

"We can't solve for every potential event … there are always things you can't anticipate and can't control," she said.

"[But] all in all — compared to last summer — we're in a good, strong position."

ABC News

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