Transcript: Jenny McAllister on Senate Inquiry, Energy Policy and SA Blackout
2.40pm | February 21, 2017
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
DEPUTY CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE RESILIENCE OF ELECTRICITY INFRASTRUCTURE IN A WARMING WORLD
FIVEAA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Senate Inquiry, Energy policy, SA blackout
LEON BYNER: Yesterday in Adelaide a Senate Inquiry was held to probe why South Australia was brought to its knees last September with a shutdown of power…Jenny McAllister…you were there yesterday, what did we get out of it?
JENNY MCALLISTER: In some respects it was quite unsatisfactory. As you noted in your remarks, AGL didn’t bother to turn up, a last-minute scratching from one of the key players in the South Australian market. And SA Power Networks really ducked most of the significant questions we wanted to ask them, on the grounds that the personnel at the table didn’t have the technical expertise. The position I put to them was ‘What did you think we were going to talk about? Of course we wanted to talk about the events on 8 February, of course we wanted to talk about the storm last year. You ought to have been prepared.’ So in some respects, it was unsatisfactory. But the biggest story was that it confirmed my view that AEMO could have acted much earlier than they did to prevent the blackout on February 8. There was enough power available in South Australia, had there been enough warning provided to those gas generators, to get started and get their plants up and running. AEMO seems to have failed to act early enough to secure electricity supply.
BYNER: Jenny you’re aware aren’t you that this disease we’ve got in South Australia with energy is spreading to the rest of Australia.
MCALLISTER: Here’s how I characterise it: it doesn't seem to matter whether you’re in a state with a heavy penetration of renewables like you have in SA, or a state almost entirely reliant on coal like my home state New South Wales, the market arrangements do not seem to be working. In New South Wales in just the last fortnight we’ve also had load shedding, in fact at a far more significant scale than you had down south. My view is that this is a problem arising from a failure to set out a clear energy policy. Everybody knows we’re in transition, there’s a whole lot of new technologies coming on to the market. All the evidence is that these are going to be a lot cheaper than some of the old technologies we built in the ‘60s and the ‘80s. But the market arrangements are going to need to have to change to keep up with that and unfortunately that work hasn’t been done. So we are seeing that the markets are confused, people aren’t building new capacity. We’ve got coal fired generators reaching the end of their life, needing to be replaced, and nobody’s stepping up with the investment plans to replace them. This is simply because there’s not enough clarity about where policy is going. That’s something that the Federal Government really needs to step up and address.
BYNER: Thank you Jenny.
MEDIA CONTACT: LYNDAL HOWISON 0404 854 033