© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Liddell Coal Power Plant pictured in Hunter Valley, North Sydney, Australia, April 9, 2017. REUTERS / Jason Reed / File Photo / File Photo
SYDNEY (Reuters) – A fire that broke out at a power plant in New South Wales over the weekend will not affect electricity supplies, the Australian energy market operator (AEMO) said on Sunday, excluding a deteriorating energy crisis in the east.
Supply has been extended since mid-May in the densely populated east, with about 25% of 23,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired capacity cut off for maintenance or unplanned outages. Interruptions in coal supplies and rising world prices for coal and gas have exacerbated the situation.
AEMO, which operates electricity and gas systems and markets across the country, said Friday it had enough electricity to meet forecast demand over the weekend, alleviating immediate concerns about potential power outages on the East Coast.
Late Saturday, the agency announced on Twitter (NYSE 🙂 that it was aware of a “substation fire” at the Tallawarra power plant in Yallah, a suburb of Wollongong, a town about 80 km (50 miles) south of Sydney, but said no. the fire is expected to overload the power supply.
“We would like to assure customers in (New South Wales) that this will not affect electricity supply,” AEMO said.
The fire was the result of mechanical damage to an redundant transformer, firefighters said, with more than 60 firefighters working to control it.
More than 10,000 liters (2,600 gallons) of oil have caught fire and the blaze is likely to take several days, the Nine news site reported.
New South Wales Treasurer Matt Keane said energy market conditions looked strong after another power generator returned online on Saturday night.
“There is more than enough supply to meet demand in the foreseeable future, and this is AEMO’s advice,” Keane told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
On Wednesday, AEMO halted the national electricity market, taking control of supply and pricing at an unprecedented step, backed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said it was necessary to limit the system’s “play”.
Since then, coal-fired generators have put 1,900 MW of power back into the grid, the Australian Energy Council said, reducing the risk of power outages.