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NSW heatwave: National energy grid survived the weekend, will it last the summer?

By Lexi Metherell, Monday January 8, 2018 - 11:02 EDT

The national energy grid has survived , despite heatwaves across much of the southeast of Australia and parts of the west.

Sydney yesterday recorded its , with Penrith reaching 47.3 degrees Celsius.

But one energy market expert is warning that the real test of the national electricity grid this summer is yet to come.

The Australian Energy Market Operator [AEMO] had been bracing for heatwave conditions over the weekend, and while there were blackouts in parts of Sydney's Ausgrid network due to heavy use and cable outages, the national power system held up.

Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, said the system was not put under any "major stress" over the weekend.

"But it certainly responded well, and I think it's a sign that things are under control for this summer," he said.

"The worst time is to come, but broadly I think it says that the preparations that we've done for summer have been well done."

Mr Wood said the toughest conditions for the east coast of Australia usually took place towards the end of the summer holidays, when people head back to work and kids return to school.

He said since last year a number of actions had been taken by AEMO to address issues such as the closure of the Hazelwood power station and a number of gas-fired power stations going offline last summer.

"[Those issues] have all been addressed, so we're actually in better shape than we were last summer," Mr Wood said.

"So I think we can be confident that things will go smoothly — although you would never want to be complacent."

Months ahead should be cooler: BOM

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Blair Trewin said the weekend's hot conditions in Victoria and South Australia were mostly at a level expected every couple of years.

But he said when the heat moved more into New South Wales, "the thing which was particularly notable about it was that the heat came all the way out to the coast, which doesn't always happen with those events".

"The Sydney region was pretty much in the sweet spot for really extreme heat."

Dr Trewin said while last month was one to two degrees above normal across much of eastern Australia, it was not looking as hot in the months ahead.

"The outlook for the remainder of the summer, particularly the later part of the summer, leans on the cooler of the normal side in much of New South Wales and Queensland," he said.

"So it would be a surprise to us if we see the sort of consistent heat that we saw last January and February in New South Wales and Queensland.

"The outlook does lean towards the wetter side in eastern Australia. For most of eastern Australian we're going for a 60 to 70 per cent chance of above average rainfall over the first quarter of the year."


© ABC 2018

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