National

Backup power ready as grid braces for heat

By AAP Newswire

Extreme temperatures will put coal-fired power plants under stress this summer, but backup electricity sources should be able to prevent any blackouts.

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Wednesday released its summer readiness plan as the electricity system braces for high temperatures and possible outages caused by bushfires.

Most of the backup power has been sourced for Victoria and South Australia, with the rest for New South Wales and Queensland.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said unexpected events could and did happen, so it was pivotal emergency resources were available.

"The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting both warmer than average and extreme temperatures this summer, and an ongoing and significant risk of bushfires with drier than usual conditions," she said.

"These risks add to the deteriorating reliability of some of the older coal generation plants."

Rooftop and grid-scale solar power have made up the majority of new generation in the National Electricity Market since last summer, AEMO says.

"The introduction of these resources delivers a welcomed improvement to reliability and reduces the need to procure further out of market reserves," Ms Zibelman said.

Most of the backup power sources will only be paid for if they're needed, she added.

AEMO doesn't expect drought conditions to make much of a dent in power supply.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the increased risks pointed out by AEMO is why he's focused on a reliability plan.

"The plan tasked the Energy Security Board to review the reliability standard which will ensure that there is affordable and reliable energy for Australian business and households into the future," he told AAP.

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler says the government's squabbles over climate policy have had a hand in reliability issues, as investors haven't had confidence in the sector.

"(It's) not only hurting Australian families, but also putting manufacturers like Australia's aluminium smelters at risk," he said.