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Power outages as Australia swelters through extreme temperatures

MELBOURNE: Blistering heat triggered power outages on Australia’s strained grid on Friday as demand for air-conditioning soared and coal-fired generators struggled to meet the surge in consumption.

To shore up the grid, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) cut power to Alcoa Corp’s Portland aluminium smelter, the biggest consumer in the state of Victoria, for nearly two hours on Thursday evening and on Friday.

The record-breaking heatwave over the past week sent power prices soaring across southeastern Australia.

Wholesale power prices in Victoria hit the market cap of A$14,500 ($10,298) per megawatt hour (MWh) before midday on Friday, earlier than expected, then dropped to A$300, National Electricity Market data showed. Supply was tight, with a total of 1,800 megawatts (MW) of generation offline in the country’s east, AEMO Chief Executive Audrey Zibelman said on Australian Broadcasting Corp TV. AGL Energy’s Loy Yang power plant and EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn, both in Victoria, were among those with units down.

Transmission links from the states of Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia were transferring power to Victoria at full capacity, Zibelman said.

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