SA power outage: how did it happen?


South Australians were told to leave work early on Thursday afternoon in order to avoid another devastating storm bearing down on the capital, Adelaide.

"The system has behaved as it's meant to behave to protect the national energy market", Jay Weatherill, the South Australian premier, said.

"Essentially what happened is a massive set of power was removed and when that happens it trips the system", he said in a press conference on Wednesday evening.

"This is a catastrophic natural event which has destroyed our infrastructure". Energy generation assets remain intact.

SA Power Networks said it wasn't receiving upstream power supply from the transmission network and as such the whole state was without supply.

"This would have happened whatever the system looked like in whatever state had this damage occurred in another place", Weatherill said.

Giant balls of hail pelted the ground, as more than 80,000 lightning strikes lit up the sky and brought down large trees.

Market estimates are that a much as 72 per cent of South Australia's electricity was being supplied by wind when the system collapsed, with some electricity also sourced from Victoria at that time.

Well, it does, but it has to reset the system.

Adelaide Airport is running on back-up power after a brief blackout, but travellers were told to expect disruptions.

The state is powered by a mix of wind, solar and gas.

Meanwhile, AGL Energy is reaping the rewards of its investment in recent years in large coal fired power stations and the rise in wholesale electricity prices, which are almost eclipsing the impact of the carbon price scrapped by the Abbott government.

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SA Power Networks, which runs the state's electricity distribution network, tweeted that South Australians should "brace for extended outages and ensure you conserve mobile device battery".

But why all of South Australia was blacked out for a time on Wednesday out is yet to be clarified.

More than 1.7 million found themselves without power.

Did that impact Wednesday's event?


There were no reports of any serious injury or death, according to the state premier.

"We have sufficient back-up baseload power".

So, surely SA can get power from this interconnector?

Frydenberg says he wants to raise the issue again at the next COAG energy ministers meeting, but unless the federal government either raises or extends its own renewable energy target, there is little likelihood that any of the states will abandon their own state based initiatives.

"One of the key things facing Victoria over the next couple of days is the weather scenario", Victorian emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley said.

"We can not see a repeat of these events either in South Australia or in other parts of the network because of the implications it has for the community". Heavy rain caused widespread flooding, from the Patawalonga river in Adelaide, to the Barossa and Clare Valleys, which got 54mm of rain.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the prime minister of trying to use a natural disaster to play politics.

What about its wind power?