Cold snap blows out energy supply


18 July: Victoria gas blackout; up to 1000 households have gas supplies interrupted after second day of near-record consumption "one-in-20 year demand"

EnergyAustralia’s losses come as eastern Australia was gripped by a cold snap that led to Sydney’s lowest minimum temperature in 21 years on Tuesday and a record power use that night, surpassing the mark set 24 hours earlier, reported The Australian (19/7/2007, p.5).

NSW electricity assets for sale? The losses come amid a review of the NSW Government’s electricity resources. A report was expected to be released by the end of August and would recommend the privatisation of the state’s retail electricity assets, which include EnergyAustralia, regional Country Energy and outer-Sydney-focused Integral Energy. These assets could fetch between $3 billion and $4 billion. EnergyAustralia has more than 1.5 million customers and is believed to be bleeding money as wholesale prices of electricity blow out.

EnergyAustralia in massive losses? To buy a base-load hedge contract for electricity in NSW for 2008 costs $70.95 a megawatt hour. In March, the same contract cost $45, while in January it was less than $40. An EnergyAustralia spokesperson would not comment on the losses: "It is commercial and in confidence. What I can say is the current wholesale market is challenging and EnergyAustralia exceeded its targets for the last financial year." The company sold a 50 per cent stake in a retail operator to its joint-venture partner International Power in May for $147 million. A spokesman for NSW Energy Minister Ian Macdonald would not say if the publicly owned EnergyAustralia was losing money or what the Government intended to do about it.

Momentum Energy offloads 15,000 customers: Another retailer, Momentum Energy, was forced on 6 July to offload its customer base of 15,000 accounts to Australian Power and Gas. The company said it had to lose the domestic customers because of rising wholesale costs.

Vic gas interruption as consumption nears record: In Victoria, up to 1000 households had gas supplies interrupted after a second day of near-record consumption. Gas supplies to about 1000 homes were also affected after householders turned up the heat to protect themselves against the cold conditions. "There was something like 12,080 terajoules of gas used," Energy Network Association head Andrew Blyth said yesterday. "This is a one-in-20year demand."

Snow stops play: Snow covered parts of the Dandenong Ranges and forced the closure of schools across western Victoria. However, conditions improved slightly in Sydney, which recorded its coldest day for 21 years on Tuesday. The coldest temperature in NSW was at Charlotte Pass, with -9C. Ice and snow caused road closures around Orange and Oberon in the central-west.

NSW need for power: Electricity consumption in NSW remained at near-record levels after the state churned through more than 13,000 megawatts of power yesterday.

The Australian, 19/7/2007, p. 5

Source: Erisk Net  

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