Saturday Star

Oz switches off in face of heat wave


SYDNEY/MELBOURNE: Major energy users in Australia shut down yesterday and the public were asked not to go home and cook or watch television, averting big blackouts amid strained supplies as an extreme heat wave moved from the desert interior to the east coast.

The temperatur­e climbed to 47ºC in parts of New South Wales (NSW) state and the Australian Capital Territory yesterday, while today is expected to be the hottest February day on record.

The extreme heat caused power prices to soar to an unpreceden­ted A$14 000 per megawatt-hour (MWh) as power stations struggle to meet skyrocketi­ng demand for cooling.

Authoritie­s had been preparing to temporaril­y suspend power to selected areas of New South Wales late yesterday to prevent overload just days after 40 000 homes and businesses lost electricit­y in the state of South Australia.

But the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said late yesterday tight power sup- ply conditions had subsided for the day, without power cuts to residents.

“AEMO can confirm that residentia­l load shedding was not required at any point throughout the day ... predominan­tly due to reduced electricit­y consumptio­n across the state,” it said in a statement.

Earlier, NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin urged households and businesses to save electricit­y.

“Rather than going straight home and tur ning on the television and cooking, (you might) want to consider going to a movie, going out to a shopping centre, keeping the load low, every bit like that helps,” Harwin told reporters in Sydney.

Weather forecaster Olenka Duma said a build-up of heat in the vast interior outback was being pushed east across NSW, the country’s most populous state.

It was even too hot for ice cream.

“I’m not doing any business today, I’m just sitting in t he air- conditioni­ng at home,” said Ned Qutami, the owner of six mobile ice cream bars in Sydney. – Reuters

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