On the afternoon of 25 May 2021, an incident occurred involving the trip of multiple generators and high voltage transmission lines in Queensland following an initial event at the Callide C power station. This resulted in the loss of approximately 3,045 MW of generation and 2,300 MW of customer load being disconnected from the power system resulting in widespread blackouts to households and businesses across Queensland.
After conducting a thorough investigation, the AER alleges that Callide Power Trading, the Registered Participant for Callide C, breached rule 4.15(a)(1) and clause 5.2.5(a)(1) of the National Electricity Rules in respect of the Callide C4 generating unit by failing to ensure its plant met or exceeded applicable performance standards, and by failing to plan and design its facilities and ensure they were operated to comply with those performance standards.
The failure of Callide C4’s protection systems to disconnect the generating unit from the power system resulted in the trip of multiple generators. Callide C4 has been offline since the incident.
AER Board Member Mr Justin Oliver said compliance with generator performance standards is critical to the safe and secure operation of the power system, and is one of the AER’s compliance and enforcement priorities.
“Performance standards describe how a generating unit should perform and how it should respond to adverse events. These standards are agreed between the Registered Participant and the Australian Energy Market Operator.”
“Failure to comply with these standards can risk power system security, see consumers disconnected from power supply and cause wholesale energy prices to increase during and beyond these events.”
“It’s vital that Registered Participants and Generators are aware of their performance standards and comply with them at all times so that the market and consumers aren’t wrongly exposed to the consequences of adverse events,” Mr Oliver said.
The AER is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, orders for remedying the breach or preventing the recurrence of the breach, and costs.