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Albanese government 'monitoring' unprecedented suspension of 'national' energy market

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

Anthony Albanese's government is monitoring the energy situation closely to determine what changes need to be made to improve how the market operates.

Recent energy shortages across the electricity market have exposed weaknesses in the system, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

The federal government is closely monitoring the situation after the Australian Energy Market Operator made a surprise decision to suspend the market.

Flow's Rikki Lambert said on Wednesday the Prime Minister need to put his 'big boy pants on' and intervene in the crisis created by politicians, big banks and energy companies:

AEMO stated on Wednesday its rationale for the unprecedented intervention was a combination of factors:

  • A large number of generation units out of action for planned maintenance - a typical situation in the shoulder seasons.

  • Planned transmission outages.

  • Periods of low wind and solar output.

  • Around 3000 MW of coal fired generation out of action through unplanned events.

  • An early onset of winter - increasing demand for both electricity and gas.

Whilst described as a National Energy Market or NEM, Western Australia is not yet connected into the national grid due to the prohibitive cost of doing so.

Mr Albanese told national radio on Thursday morning:

"There are weaknesses, clearly, that have been exposed, and all of the lessons of what is happening will be examined."
"My government and Chris Bowen as the (energy) minister will act in a considered, sober way to make sure that as we go into the future, anything that can be learnt from what has happened this week will be."

Mr Albanese warned he wouldn't hesitate to take any necessary action.

The market operator suspended the electricity spot price market on Wednesday in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria until further notice.

The move, which has previously only occurred on an individual state level, allowed AEMO to take full control of directing supplies from energy generators to the east coast power grid.

As well, AEMO will set prices for every state in the market until further notice.

Mr Albanese said the energy crisis was an embarrassment for the previous coalition government:

"What we've seen is a failure of policy that has led to a market failure and that is why AEMO has stepped in here ... There were vulnerabilities that have been exposed.
"This is what happens when you don't have investment certainty, when you don't have the transmission grid fit for purpose."

Mr Bowen said the AEMO's action on Wednesday was necessary to put the interests of consumers first, telling national television on Thursday:

"It puts consumers first, it's our best chance of keeping a reliable energy supply and our best chance of making sure that consumers aren't being ripped off." 
"We've avoided blackouts and we've avoided load shedding, everybody's working as hard as possible so that can continue to be the case."

The suspension of the market will be reviewed on Thursday and in the following days until the AEMO is confident the market is operating properly, with Mr Bowen saying:

"That will continue for not a day more, not a day less than it needs to ... until the market comes back to a normal sense of operation."

Mr Albanese and Mr Bowen are expected to be questioned on the issue when state and territory leaders arrive in Canberra on Thursday, ahead of a dinner at The Lodge and a national cabinet meeting on Friday.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the situation was concerning:

"This is on Labor's watch. I'm very worried for families and businesses across the country."


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