Reliability Panel sets new power system restart standard

15 December 2016

The Australian Energy Market Commission’s Reliability Panel today released a new standard for procurement of ancillary generation services which are needed to restart the power system following widespread blackouts.

This determination follows a year-long public consultation process with energy users, industry, jurisdictional system security co-ordinators and state and territory governments.

The system restart standard governs the level and reliability requirements for services which are needed to turn the grid back on after a large-scale blackout.

Reliability Panel Chairman, Neville Henderson, said today that extreme blackouts, also called black system events, can seriously affect public safety and business continuity.

“It’s important there are enough restart services to quickly restore power supply to generators across the system,” Mr Henderson said.

Most generators are not capable of independently starting up again if electricity supply to the system is lost. Some generators have specialised equipment which allows them to start independently of the system. The market operator AEMO contracts with them to provide system restart ancillary services for the rest of the system.

“The Reliability Panel has set a new, more stringent standard for procurement of these services which is tailored to the specific requirements of each electrical sub-network,” Mr Henderson said.

“It has also made a number of recommendations to improve the process generation and load restoration”

These recommendations are for:

  • AEMO and network businesses to develop detailed load restoration plans and communicate them to jurisdictional governments so that state emergency plans can manage the impact of a black system event.
  • The market operator AEMO to strengthen its engagement with key stakeholders, particularly transmission and distribution network service providers, so that market participants are adequately informed as to the amount of system restart ancillary services which have been procured.
  • System restart service providers and network businesses along with the AEMO work together to identify opportunities to fully test the operation of restart services so that more information is available to help fine-tune the procurement process. For example, it may be possible to perform comprehensive tests of restart services when associated transmission elements are being returned to service following a planned outage.

Mr Henderson said this standard may be reviewed again by the Panel if the power system changes or if the availability of system restart ancillary services changes in the future

The new standard will commence in July 2018 when current contracts for system restart ancillary services expire.

Prior to commencement AEMO will be transitioning to the new requirements; revising its guidelines on system restart ancillary services and procuring services in accordance with the new standard.

The Reliability Panel's core functions relate to the safety, security and reliability of the national electricity system. The focus of the Panel's work is on determining standards and guidelines which are part of the framework for maintaining a secure and reliable power system. The panel is chaired by AEMC Commissioner, Mr Neville Henderson. Its members are broadly representative of all stakeholders interested in the operation of the power system and the electricity market including consumer groups, generators, network service providers, retailers and the power system and market operator, AEMO.

Media contact:  Communication Director, Prudence Anderson 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817