Rule Change: Open

Overview

The AEMC has received two rule change requests relating to system restart ancillary services (SRAS). These services contribute to the overall resilience of the power system by enabling recovery following a major blackout, known as a black system event.
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The AEMC has received two rule change requests relating to system restart ancillary services (SRAS). These services contribute to the overall resilience of the power system by enabling recovery following a major blackout, known as a black system event.

  • On 29 July 2019, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) submitted a rule change request (ERC0278) seeking to incentivise the provision of both system restart and restoration support capabilities from a range of different technologies. AEMO's rule change request is also intended to facilitate more extensive testing to verify the viability of system restart paths, increasing the level of assurance that system restoration will succeed. 
  • On 6 September 2019, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) submitted a rule change request (ERC0281) seeking to provide greater clarity and transparency about the roles and responsibilities of parties involved in responding to a major supply disruption, particularly in respect of information provision and communication protocols relating to SRAS. The AER’s rule change request has been informed by the findings of its Investigation report  into the black system event in South Australia in 2016, particularly the extent to which inadequate communication protocols contributed to the failure of contracted SRAS providers in South Australia to provide SRAS following the event

These rule changes are related to a broader program of work undertaken by the Commission through its Review of the South Australian Black system event. This review is considering the overall resilience of the power system to high impact, low probability events, including the role that SRAS plays in this overall resilience. 

Consolidation

On 19 September 2019, the Commission published a notice of the consolidation of ERC0278 and ERC0281. The two rule change requests are consolidated under ERC0278 and named System restart services, standards and testing. Given the common subject material and close interactions between the two rule change requests, it is considered desirable and efficient to consolidate the rule change requests.

Consultation paper

The Commission also published a consultation paper on 19 September 2019 seeking stakeholder feedback on the key issues raised in the consolidated rule change requests. Submissions closed on 17 October 2019.

Background

The NEM power system is periodically subject to major shocks, such as severe storm systems, which are known as high impact, low probability (HILP) events. These HILP events can damage infrastructure and cause major disturbances on the power system. If these disturbances are severe enough, they may overcome the various power system protection mechanisms, and result in a major blackout. These blackouts, known as “black system events”, have a major economic and social impact. 

The national electricity rules therefore include a process for how to respond to these kinds of events. 

System restart ancillary services (SRAS) are the first component of this process. They contribute to the overall resilience of the power system by enabling recovery following a black system event. 

SRAS are procured by AEMO in order to mitigate the economic costs of black system events by kick-starting the process of restoring supply. SRAS are currently provided by generators with the capability to start, or remain in service, without electricity being provided from the grid. Once an SRAS provider has restarted its own plant, it provides energy to restart other generators and commence the processes required for system restoration. 

The NER also set out a framework for how the restoration of the system should be managed, once SRAS have done their work. This process of system restoration includes a series of coordinated actions from other generators, AEMO and network service providers. Careful planning and clear communication between these various parties is critical to the effective restoration of supply to customers. 

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