Wind farm operators face court over 2016 blackout in S Australia

Snowtown Wind Farm. Image by Trustpower (www.trustpower.co.nz).

August 7 (Renewables Now) - Subsidiaries of AGL Energy Ltd (ASX:AGL), Neoen SA, Pacific Hydro Pty Ltd and Tilt Renewables Ltd (ASX:TLT) that operate wind parks in South Australia are facing allegations by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) of failure to comply with the National Electricity Rules (NER).

The AER said today it has taken four wind farm operators to the Federal Court because they have contributed to the black system event in South Australia in September 2016. It is seeking declarations, penalties, compliance programme orders and costs.

The proceedings concern the operators of AGL’s Hallett wind farms, which have a combined capacity of 350 MW, Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm of over 300 MW, Pacific Hydro’s 56.7-MW Clements Gap wind farm, and Tilt Renewables’s Snowtown 2 wind farm of 270 MW. 

More specifically, the regulator alleges that each of these operators failed to ensure that their wind farms and associated facilities complied with the generator performance standard requirement to ride-through certain disturbances. AER also alleges that the operators failed to provide automatic protection systems to enable them to ride-through voltage disturbances to ensure continuity of supply, in contravention of the NER.

On September 28, 2016 severe weather conditions damaged transmission lines in South Australia and caused voltage disturbances. A subsequent loss of wind generation contributed to a state-wide black-out. 

“The AER has brought these proceedings to send a strong signal to all energy businesses about the importance of compliance with performance standards to promote system security and reliability,” said Paula Conboy, AER Chair. “These alleged failures contributed to the black system event, and meant that AEMO was not fully informed when responding to system wide failure in South Australia in September 2016.”

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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