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Energy and fire authorities monitoring weather as SA heatwave continues

Wednesday April 11, 2018 - 10:21 EST
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The CFS is concerned about the threat of fast-moving fires after several this month. - ABC

South Australia's April heatwave has left fire authorities on high alert for a fourth consecutive day, with energy authorities closely monitoring the situation but downplaying the risk of a blackout.

Total fire bans have been issued in ten districts across the state, including in the Mount Lofty Ranges where the fire danger has been rated as extreme.

Several places have already set new temperature records, including Nullarbor which had a top of 42.2 degrees Celsius on Monday — the hottest April temperature ever recorded in South Australia.

Fire crews have committed to a "heightened level of preparedness" as hot north-westerly winds and temperatures in the high 30s are forecast across the state.

"If a fire starts, it may be that we have to wait until weather conditions abate before we actually get control of that fire," CFS assistant chief office Rob Sandford said.

"There is a change moving across the state which is moving quite slowly. Ahead of that, we're going to see very hot, dry, windy conditions that are going to put a number of areas of the state at risk."



Mr Sandford said current conditions are "some of the worst conditions we've seen for April".

"What we've seen over the last week or 10 days are , and they've generally been fast-moving fires," he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology initially expected a cool change to have reached Adelaide by now, but revised their forecast and are now predicting a top of 36C.

"We've got a forecast maximum of 36 degrees today which would make it four days in a row above 34 degrees and that's something we haven't seen before in April," weather bureau duty forecaster Hilary Wilson said.

"Also, that maximum of 36 degrees would be our hottest day this late in April."



Overnight temperatures have also been sweltering, with the mercury only dropping to 24C on Monday night and hovering in the low twenties for most of Tuesday night.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) conceded that pressure on the power network has increased during the heatwave, but said it was confident it could "ensure continuity of supply".

"We would like a little bit more generation to be there should it be called upon but we're not expecting any supply issues whatsoever," AEMO spokesman Stuart Allott said.

"There is no indication of any lack of reserve."

But Mr Allott said, although the state's back-up diesel generators had not been needed so far, scheduled maintenance to other energy infrastructure had been put on hold because of the hot weather.

It follows the supply buffer being low on Tuesday, prompting AEMO to issue a "lack of reserve notice", but winds today are expected to pick up this afternoon, boosting wind farm supply.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he was "looking at prices and reliability several times a day" but did not expect consumers to notice the impact of the heatwave on their power bills.


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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