Anger in Alice as black­out lingers


Alice Springs home and busi­ness own­ers were yes­ter­day left out­raged af­ter the town suf­fered a long black­out that unions said could have been avoided by the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s pub­lic util­ity man­ag­ing its sys­tem bet­ter.

The NT govern­ment last night promised to “take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion” if nec­es­sary, amid claims the govern­ment-owned gen­er­a­tor and net­work op­er­a­tor tri­alled untested pro­ce­dures dur­ing a restart, pro­long­ing the out­age by sev­eral hours.

Com­ing into the hottest part of the year, many peo­ple were forced to close busi­nesses or knock off early af­ter power sup­plies failed just be­fore 10am yes­ter­day. Power was re­stored to some ar­eas quickly, but not un­til af­ter 6pm else­where.

Ter­ri­tory Gen­er­a­tion, part of the pub­lic util­ity, has sought to close the age­ing Ron Goodin power sta­tion and re­place it with one at Owen Springs. The Aus­tralian un­der­stands sys­tem restora­tions in the past were led by the Ron Goodin, but that TGEN needed to prove it could man­age with only Owen Springs.

Elec­tri­cal Trades Union NT or­gan­iser David Hayes said a sys­tem restora­tion led by Owen Springs had not been done be­fore. “Ron Goodin could have had power back on to the town in a shorter time frame, but de­ci­sions in Dar­win caused de­lays,” he said. “We be­lieve that (test) should’ve been done as a sim­u­lated black start (sys­tem restora­tion) rather than a real one.”

A spokes­woman for Power and Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion and TGEN ac­knowl­edged the Owen Springs black-start process had not been fully tested but de­nied it de­layed the sys­tem restora­tion.

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