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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

NSW unprepared for major blackout

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The state’s chief scientist has warned NSW could be plunged into chaos in the event of a large-scale “black system” power outage, similar to the one that debilitated South Australia last year.

While finding it was highly unlikely NSW would fall victim to a blackout of that scale, a report released by the Energy Security Taskforce has found NSW was nevertheless ill-prepared.

Taskforce chair and chief scientist Mary O’Kane says the state government needs to adopt a more proactive approach to managing short- and medium-term risks, including during prolonged periods of extreme heat.

“The government must be alive to risks over coming years so that it can manage emerging risks proactively when needed,” Prof O’Kane said in a statement.

For Sydneysiders, the report found up to 10,000 people on underground trains would need to be evacuated in the event the state fell victim to an outage.

Meanwhile, public hospitals only have six hours worth of fuel in their back-up diesel generators, the report released on Tuesday, found.

“As we saw in the South Australian event, sometimes these can go on for a while and there is reason to think it would be quite some time in a black event like that for Sydney to come back up,” Ms O’Kane told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

The report found the system was vulnerable in times of extreme weather events and made nine recommendations to shore it up.

“The next decade will be a period of transition and disruption for the National Energy Market, and with that comes opportunities for innovation to increase the future reliability and security of the state’s electricity system,” Prof O’Kane said.


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