RURAL Queensland is being called on to do whatever is possible to help prevent a forecast shortfall in electricity supply, which could result in blackouts this evening.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has identified the potential for electricity demand to exceed supply across Queensland in the peak period between 5pm and 8.30pm and again in the early morning before 8am.
The warning has prompted an urgent statewide call for reduced energy consumption in Australia's most energy rich state.
Powerlink chief executive Paul Simshauser said there had been an unusual combination of unexpected generator outages plus cool winter temperatures and high demand for electricity.
While gas supplies were sufficient, very high gas prices meant AEMO has already triggered its market generation response mechanisms, he said.
"By managing electricity consumption - especially in the evening and mornings - people can help to ensure that available supply is used in the fairest and most efficient manner across industry, the community and essential services," Professor Simshauser said.
"Community safety and wellbeing is important so only manage energy consumption if it is safe to do so."
Top of the list for households are air-conditioners, pool pumps and second fridges.
Commercial businesses are being asked to turn off water heating systems, urns, advertising lighting and unnecessary exterior lighting.
"By carefully managing electricity use at home and in your workplace, the community can help ensure that power system security is maintained in Queensland," Prof Simshauser said.
By carefully managing electricity use at home and in your workplace, the community can help ensure that power system security is maintained in Queensland.- Professor Paul Simshauser, Powerlink
A spokesperson for the peak body for retailers and generators, the Australian Energy Council, said there was unprecedented volatility in energy markets. This was a result of supply constraints caused by the war in Ukraine, outages at coal (fired) plants, local coal and gas supply issues and the ongoing cold weather in the south east of Australia.
"The Australian Energy Market Operator has sought generation to improve reserve conditions and maintain power system security and reliability and AEMO has indicated it does not expect interruptions to customer supplies at this stage," the statement reads.
"AEMO is expected to continue to monitor reserve conditions in Queensland and NSW and across the rest of the National Energy Market."
Queensland's Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the only way to drive power prices down was to put more renewables and storage into the energy system.
Speaking from the proposed pumped hydro energy storage site on Borumba Dam near Imbil on June 10, Mr de Brenni said large-scale storage projects like pumped hydro would enable the continued investment in wind and solar.
"This announcement will ensure more renewable energy is generated for our grid, benefitting every Queenslander across our state," he said.
"This is part of Queensland's Energy Plan, which will set out our pathway to a cheaper, cleaner and reliable energy system."
A second hydro site was still under investigation, he said.
Opposition Energy Minister Pat Weir said the Palaszczuk Government did not have a plan on how it would deliver affordable, clean and reliable energy for Queensland.
"We were told when the Callide C4 generator went down last year, it wouldn't impact energy prices or reliability," Mr Weir said.
"This has been proven to be a lie.
"Tonight, three out of the four generators at Callide aren't operating.
"This is an abject failure."
Mr Weir said experts had predicted Queensland would see energy shortages by 2025, but under the Palaszczuk Government they had arrived three years early.
"Queensland already has the highest power prices in the country and now we're being warned that the lights may not even stay on," he said.
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