Energy Market Operator Issues Dire Warning






21 May, 2024

Topics: AEMO, Blackout warnings, energy prices, electricity market report

Ted O’Brien

Australians are already struggling to make ends meet and now they are being told that the lights might go out. We’ve heard a dire warning today from the Australian Energy Operator. The Market Operator has made it very clear, as soon as this summer, the lights might go out we might have blackouts. Now this is a direct consequence of the policies of the Albanese Labor Government.

Already today, Australians are paying among the highest prices in the world. The grid is wobbling and emissions are going up. We have businesses across this country that are closing their doors because of energy prices.

Other businesses are threatening to do so. This puts Australia in a position, unlike many other nations, which is managing their energy transitions effectively. Labor’s all-eggs-in-one-basket, “renewables-only” approach is leading to skyrocketing prices and potential blackouts.

The extraordinary thing is at no point has the Labor Government suggested they are prepared to learn the lessons from their own failures and learn the lessons from successes overseas and change tack. Over the next 10 years, 90% of baseload power will exit the grid.

We are seeing a massive depletion of gas. Renewable rollouts have stalled. This is creating a situation where Australia is running out of energy. And the Market Operator today is putting its hand up sounding the warning bell. Australia: lights out.

That’s the warning if we keep going down the path that Labor has set for us. I’m open to any questions if if you have any.


Thanks, Mr. O’Brien. Can I just firstly sort of challenge you on that claim? I mean, the government has announced its long term gas policy.

The Prime Minister and the government has handled this. Are you creating a sort of level of fear here which is really quite unfounded?

Ted O’Brien

Well, the market operator itself has made it crystal clear that we are facing shortfalls as early as this Summer. Now it is obliged under the rules of the electricity market to come forward and publicly release new material information. This is the material information.

Now, if Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese wants to challenge the Market Operator, that’s for them to do so. But the Market Operator has spoken here and made it very clear that the lights risk going out in this country, because this government ultimately is failing.


How much responsibility does the opposition take for this? I mean, just until two years ago, you were in government.

So haven’t the settings not been in place over quite a long period of time? The government says it’s trying to play catch up on the decisions your government took.

Ted O’Brien

The problem we see today is a direct consequence of the Albanese government’s own policy settings. They are adopting an all-eggs-in-one-basket, “renewables-only” approach. The Coalition’s approach was one of having a balanced energy mix one of being technology agnostic.

What we see today is a race to the exit for baseload power stations. To think that 90% of our baseload power will exit the grid within 10 years. Labor is turning off an electricity system without having another one ready to go.

On gas – Labor immediately coming to office started suffocating gas. It took money out of the budget for gas infrastructure. It basically said to gas companies we will intervene in your market. It made red tape and approvals far worse, it funded the Environmental Defenders Office.

It has been suffocating gas since the day it came into office. Last week, Labor had the opportunity to improve the approvals process offshore, but instead of buddied up with the greens and made it even harder, the policy settings under Labor have changed entirely for the energy market. It is pursuing a pathway to decarbonize this country that no other nation in the world is attempting it is on its own, and it will leave Australia on our own as an economy.

No other country is attempting this madness, we’re already seeing problems market operator is calling it out. Not only are we paying among the highest prices in the world, but we are now facing the prospect of blackouts. This is a unique problem homegrown, of the Albanese Labor Government. Australians are the ones who are paying the price.


What’s the holdup if your nuclear energy policy being released, why haven’t you, why haven’t you made that public?

Ted O’Brien

There is no doubt that on a day like today, where the market operator has basically said that Australia is going down the path of blackouts that other Australians are looking to the Opposition now. And understanding the importance of 24/7 always on power.

That is one of the attributes of zero emissions, nuclear energy. Now, in due course, we will release our energy policy. And what the Australian people will see is a balanced energy mix. It’s all about getting the balance, right. Do we need renewables? Yes, we do.

Do we need gas? Yes, we do. And as coal exits the system, it should be replaced by another 24/7 source of power, one that is zero emissions. And if we learn the lessons from around the world, especially other developed nations, we should be looking at zero-emissions, nuclear energy.

We’ve been very upfront about that, since coming to Opposition and we will continue to be transparent. And in due course, we’ll be releasing our policy.


Will, that include the costings for nuclear?

Ted O’Brien

We’ll be including as much as we can provide. So people are very clear about one the challenge Australia faces, paying among the highest prices in the world, losing its 24/7 power system. And on the other hand, a comprehensive approach from the Opposition that basically says there’s a better way.

That we can decarbonize our economy, while ensuring that we remain prosperous and strong and fiercely independent as a nation. That is what we will be delivering when we release our policy, a policy that focus on focuses on cheaper, cleaner and consistent energy.

Anna Henderson

So you’ll be able to reassure those who are concerned about faultlines that none of the nuclear power plants you’ll propose will be in areas that have existing fault lines?

Thank you. I’m just at the Hunter Valley, for example, we know that that’s been a zone that has had earthquakes quite serious ones in the past. So would you be willing to avoid having nuclear power plants in areas like that?

Ted O’Brien

Well, we will be releasing our full policy suite in due course. Now when it comes to nuclear energy. I understand why the Australian people are so interested in learning more about zero emissions energy, especially given today we learned that our 24/7 power system is going to close down and people will have questions around a whole range of issues.

We have been doing an enormous amount of work learning the lessons from overseas. Other countries have gotten this right. Other countries have not been ideological. When it comes to energy. They basically said we needed an energy mix, different technologies play a different role. And in our case, as we move forward, we will see a future in Australia, where renewables will work in partnership with gas and zero emissions, nuclear energy, delivering cheaper power, cleaner power, and consistent always on 24/7.


Just thinking of the Hunter Valley, for example, we know that that’s been a zone that has had earthquakes quite serious ones in the past. So would you be wanting to avoid having nuclear power plants in areas like that?

Ted O’Brien

As I said Anna, we will be releasing our full policy in due course, you’re right, though, to talk about regions that have previously been host to coal plants. Indeed, some of these regions across Australia are the ones hurting the most. The Hunter you point to when the Coalition was last in government, we announced the Kurri Kurri gas plant. Now that should be up and running today.

But again, because this government has taken an ideological approach to energy, it’s yet to turn on. That is because Chris Bowen made it crystal clear he didn’t want a gas plant, it had to be driven by hydrogen. And here we are today. I’m standing up because the Market Operator is sounding a warning to Australians that the lights might go out.

And still we have a government that is refusing to be technology agnostic, or technologies should be on the table for consideration. And that’s the approach the Coalition has taken in the past. It will be part of our ‘All-of-the-Above’ approach as we move forward.

Thank you.

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