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Canberra weather: Rolling blackouts avoided as temperature peaks at 41C

By Jesse Dorsett and Elise Pianegonda, Friday February 10, 2017 - 22:39 EDT
ABC image
ACT authorities took the unusual step of declaring a total fire ban for two days. - ABC

Authorities in the ACT say rolling blackouts have been avoided in Canberra after earlier fears that the network would be unable to cope with demand during Friday's heatwave.

Canberrans faced the hottest maximum temperature of any capital city as the heatwave swept the country.

About 5:20pm on Friday Canberra's temperature reached 41 degrees Celsius, with the same maximum forecast for Saturday.

If temperatures climb beyond that on Saturday it could become the city's hottest day ever, a record not broken since 1968 when it reached 42.2C at the airport.

Earlier on Friday, authorities in the ACT warned they may be forced to switch off electricity in parts of Canberra as very hot weather drove up power use and potentially created a shortfall.

But Stephen Devlin, from energy supplier Actew AGL, said load-shedding was now unnecessary.

"The combined proactive effort of everyone across Canberra... enabled ActewAGL to sufficiently reduce load across the ACT," he said.

"Unless there are unforeseen circumstances that further impact electricity generation overnight, it's unlikely we would be required to conduct rolling blackouts during the weekend."

As of 4:00pm on Friday, power usage in Canberra was 15 per cent above Thursday's amount, but Mr Devlin said unrelated outages in Duffy and Fraser in the afternoon helped ease the load.

Larger consumers like the Canberra Airport also did their bit to help ease the strain on the ACT's energy supply but switching to diesel generators.

In a tweet the airport said the move relieved 1.9 megawatts of power from the grid.

ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury had warned that Canberra could also have been affected because it was part of the New South Wales grid.

The federal public service followed officials' advice; setting the air conditioning in all of its ACT and NSW buildings to 26C to save power.

An email said it would be "phased throughout the afternoon" because of the "threat of rolling blackouts".

Total fire ban extended to Sunday

The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) extended the region's fire ban until Sunday due to "worsening conditions".

The Fire Danger Rating was set at severe.

"There is so much grass out there, the amount of fuel that there is to burn. It is very, very dry," ESA Commissioner Dominic Lane said.

"If something kicks along today it will go ripping along the landscape.

"We have extra aircraft available to us in case anything does happen."

Commissioner Lane warned Canberrans to be careful in the dangerous conditions.

"If you go for a picnic, grab a cooked chook and some salad but don't light a fire," he said.

Most of the ACT's nature reserves will be closed due to the fire ban, but the Tidbinbilla and Namadgi visitor centres will remain open.

Swimming areas at the Cotter and along the Murrumbidgee River, such as Kambah Pool, Pine Island Point Hut and Uriarra Crossing, will also be open.

Friday's hot weather came after .

Across the month, the average maximum temperature was 32.8C, an increase of 0.5C on the previous record set in 2013.


© ABC 2017

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