South Australian power generators have been accused of using poor weather as an excuse for charging more for electricity, compounding fears over further price rises after a 62% electricity price rise from 2007 to 2012.
The price blowout occurred early this month when AGL’s wind generation capacity dropped from 900MW to zero because of weather conditions. Because of this, the price increased from the average of below $100 per MwH to $12,199 MwH. The effect was compounded by other generation units going offline, and the Murrylink interconnector being out of service due to a cable fault. A spokesperson for AGL said that had been planned maintenance at Torrens Island power station and a 200MW generating unit was tripped following a switchboard fault, subsequently causing two more 200MW systems to be tripped.
The Federal Government Australian Energy Market Commission has been criticised for not taking action against “gaming” by electricity generators; with South Australia criticised for market manipulation dating back several years. Welfare groups have expressed concern over the incident. “It is of great concern for SA’s electricity supply that Osborne and Torrens Island Power Stations as well as Pelican Point and Port Augusta can all be operating at reduced or zero output, when the interconnector is also down,” UnitingCommunities spokesman Mark Henley said to adelaidenow.
Household bills are partly based upon the wholesale prices, meaning that cost blowouts are generally passed on to consumers.