Letters to the editor

Generator questions

The article on July 13 titled Report generates answers about ElectraNet’s performance is correct but it also leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the review conducted on ElectraNet’s compliance during the September 28, 2016 event.

The Port Lincoln power station, while owned by Synergen, is contracted to ElectraNet to enable them to meet their grid reliability requirements.

After the trip early on September 29, Synergen obtained the services of technicians from Loy Yang power station who arrived on September 29. After they left site, SA Power Networks conducted further testing and the cable termination box on the transformer was eventually opened and water ingress found on October 5. If an earth fault was the only indication given by the protection system, it was either a fault in the cable or the low voltage winding side of the transformer. Standard practice is to isolate the components and test them individually, to do this the cable termination box would need to be opened. So why wasn’t this done on day one?

Any electrician trained in HV testing and in possession of a 5 kV megger should have been able to test and locate the water ingress problem in a few hours, so why did it take five days?

The reports attributes the problem to water being forced through the gasket due to extreme wind. Rainfall records for September show no rainfall was recorded on the days of the storm or the two days prior. It is unlikely significant rain would occur at the power station without Port Lincoln recording some. The design of the covers and gaskets on transformers is such that water does not normally reach the gasket itself. The high winds seems to be a convenient excuse.

Moisture build up in cable connection boxes and switchboards can always occur over time but regular routine testing and inspections should identify this long before the protection system detects it and trips the system off. So the question is why hasn’t there been regular testing and inspections?

The report mentions this transformer connects sets one and two to the Port Lincoln substation but generator three is connected by a separate transformer, which failed due to “frequency instability”. This set was test run the day before the storm so why didn’t it operate correctly? No reason was given. While the load may have exceeded its rating (25 MW), this is easily managed by rotational load shedding.

Under the reliability requirements set by the Essential Services Commission of SA (ESCOSA), ElectraNet is required to be able to restore power on failure of one of the two means of supplying power to Port Lincoln within one hour. This is usually achieved by the Port Lincoln power station being brought on line. It took the market operator, AEMO, two-and-a-half hours to give approval to start the station. The report identifies this issue but fails to say why.

This ESCOSA report only covered issues relating to ElectraNet in this event. They issued a second report on performance SA Power Networks but limited this to December 27 and 28. Parts of the West Coast were off supply for up to five days, much of this time relates to the delays in repairing damage to the SA Power Networks’ system. So why has ESCOSA ignored this?

Two members of the  local Energy Security for SA Working Party met with ESCOSA last Monday in Adelaide to discuss these issues and the concerns about the ongoing operation and reliability of the Port Lincoln power station. It was very fruitful so we are looking forward to some more answers. We also obtained data from AEMO on the run times/load/regularity of testing of the local generators over the last few years. This was assessed as less than desirable and both ESCOSA and ElectraNet have asked for copies of this data for assessment. The reliability of the ongoing operation of this station is extremely important to avoid a similar outage occurring again and subjecting Eyre Peninsula to another loss of $8.33 million.

ESCOSA is conducting another investigation titled “Inquiry into reliability and quality of electricity supply on the Eyre Peninsula” which is looking at the longer term reliability and future improvements. It plans to hold a forum in early August with feedback closing on August 18. This is an opportunity for leaders and representatives of Eyre Peninsula to again raise concerns about the inadequacy and reliability of our electricity system.


Energy Security for South Australia Working Party member

Lincoln disappoints

As a person who has come to Lincoln regularly I am truly disappointed by my visit this time. What has changed? Well this time I brought someone who has never been to Lincoln. I wanted to take her to my favorite places - Coffin Bay National Park, Lincoln National Park etc.

Well how hard have they made it? I was prepared with money for the envelopes only to find it all had to be done online. How ridiculous! 

If you know where it is and drive there as I did, you are stymied by the internet.

Try navigating it to pay for an access pass online. I ended up ringing and giving card details. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Then to top it off I wanted to show off Memory Cove. Got out there and you need a key! I wasn't about to go back and get one. I know I need one for Whalers Way but not Memory Cove.

Come on, I was showing off a place I love and bureaucracy stopped me at all turns. I am saddened by this.

Also that there is no information advising of these changes. I am 59 and have been to Lincoln every year of my life bar two and this time I brought a newby.


​Maslin Beach