Union voices concerns surrounding Alice power supply

Alice Springs BESS

The majority of the 29,000 residents of Alice Springs were without power on Easter Sunday after a cable fault in the Desert Springs and Mount Johns area.

This is the second time in 10 days major power outages have affected the Alice Springs network.

The Electrical Trades Union praised PowerWater (PWC) and Territory Generation (TGen) front line workers for their dedication and expertise, which ensured a timely restoration of supply, however the Union has major concerns about future reliability of the Alice’s power supply.

The Union’s specific concerns relate to the ability of the new Owen Springs Power Station (OSPS) to consistently maintain supply to the network without the Ron Goodin Power Station (RGPS) being available, there are also questions remaining around the Battery Energy Storage System’s (BESS) actual functions, according to the ETU.

Related article: Construction complete for remote NT solar rollout

ETU’s NT Organiser Dave Hayes said the union was disappointed that TGen and the Government were failing to respond to workers concerns about the compressed timeline for the closure of RGPS.

“This blackout and the previous blackout shows clearly that without back up of Ron Goodin Power Station, the Alice would have been stuffed. Without RGPS being available as it is currently we have no idea how long Alice Springs residents would have been without power after both these recent events,” Mr Hayes said.

The ETU says the planned closure of RGPS has been in the news for some two years with the new OSPS being constructed. Delays bringing OSPS online see it still in a commissioning stage with reliability testing being undertaken.

“The continual failures at OSPS are seeing RGPS being relied upon to maintain system stability and restore power in a timely manner should a fault occur,” Mr Hayes said.

Related article: New battery storage system for Alice Springs

“Our operators on the front line have grave concerns about the timelines and criteria TGen have in place for the closure of RGPS. They also question the timing of the testing that is being undertaken. The current testing doesn’t see the peak seasonal loads affecting the system, the network is not being tested in true Central Australian conditions.”

Alice Springs is a fairly unique ‘Island’ system, meaning unlike many other areas there is no other generation capacity that can be tapped into to supply it.

“Our operators want to ensure that before RGPS is eventually shut down that every measure has been taken to prove the reliability of the new station at Owen Springs – Alice Springs residents deserve no less,” Mr Hayes said.