Australia, For Consumers

Melbourne blackout: Storm causes chaos, recovery efforts in progress

On Tuesday afternoon, a widespread blackout left approximately 620,000 homes and businesses in Melbourne without power.

The outage was caused by a severe storm that brought high temperatures, strong winds, and lightning strikes. Thunderstorms led to the collapse of six 500kV transmission towers in Anakie, triggering a domino effect that caused several power stations, including AGL’s Loy Yang A, to shut down.

The disruption in energy generation led to a supply-demand imbalance, causing the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to witness a surge in the spot price of energy from $256 to $16,600 per megawatt hour.

To prevent further issues, AEMO directed Ausnet Services to implement load shedding, cutting power to 90,000 customers as a last resort to maintain the power system’s security.

The blackout primarily resulted from the storm damaging smaller powerlines and power poles, rather than the collapse of the high-voltage transmission towers.

According to AEMO, a majority of affected households had been reconnected so far, but some areas with local lines impacted might take up to a week to restore power.

AusNet Services, one of the most impacted utility providers, said Wednesday night that approximately 400 personnel and two helicopters had been deployed to assess and respond to over 400 faults across the 8000km of impacted power lines.

“We anticipate 48,000 customers will have their power back on by 6pm tomorrow and 50,000 customers by 6pm Saturday. There are a small number of customers that have yet to have the impact of the damage assessed. A small number of customers could still be without power into next week. Customers will receive SMS messages this evening advising of their restoration times, and we will continue to advise customers via social media and directly via text message,” Ausnet said in statement.

A spokesperson from AEMO told ecogeneration that as of 9am on February 15, 2024, Victoria’s electricity distribution businesses provided the following outage numbers:

AusNet Services: 75,444 customers without power in the outer east, outer northern Melbourne, eastern, and north-eastern Victoria.

CitiPower: One customer without power in Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs.

Jemena: 181 customers without power in north-west Melbourne.

Powercor Australia: 199 customers without power in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne and central and western Victoria.

United Energy: 4679 customers without power in south-east Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.

AEMO said investigations were underway to understand how the storm caused such widespread damage and to identify safety lessons for the future.

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