The Reliability Panel has published its final decision to revoke the South Australian ‘destructive winds’ protected event to protect energy customers from excessive operational costs associated with maintaining power system security.

The Panel has determined that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will be able to effectively manage the risk of destructive winds upon South Australia’s system, using the recently revised ‘contingency re-classification’ framework.

The South Australian ‘destructive winds protected event’, also known as the “SA protected event”, is a mechanism that allows AEMO to manage risks to the South Australian power system that may be brought about by destructive winds.

It was introduced by the Reliability Panel in 2019 following the “System Black” event that occurred in South Australia on the 28 September 2016 when around 850,000 customers lost power following gale and storm force winds.

While the SA protected event has allowed AEMO to manage operational risks and take steps to constrain the amount of power being imported into South Australia during destructive winds, the addition of new transmission infrastructure and recent reforms to the contingency reclassification process mean that a new approach is needed.

Stage 1 of Project EnergyConnect (PEC1), a new interconnector between Robertstown in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in NSW, is expected to be completed in April 2024 and will change power flows into and out of South Australia.

With higher capacity transmission infrastructure in place, operational controls required under the current protected event would likely over-constrain the power system, resulting in excessive, unnecessary costs to energy customers.

Early this year, AEMO submitted a request to revoke the SA protected event and instead use the revised contingency reclassification framework, which commenced in 2023, to manage the risk of destructive winds in South Australia with the option to adjust operational controls accordingly to account for changes in the network.

The change will be in place from 30 March 2024, prior to the expected connection of PEC1 with the grid.
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Media: Jessica Rich, 0459 918 964,