The AEMC today published a consultation paper on two rule change requests relating to the procurement, testing and provision of system restart ancillary services (SRAS).

SRAS are a key part of the resilience of the national electricity market's power system to major shocks. Resilience is about the ability of the power system to avoid, survive and recover from these shocks, like severe storm events, which can potentially result in major blackouts. While other first line defence mechanisms exist to protect against these blackouts, it’s also necessary to ensure that we can recover quickly, if they do occur. We also need to make sure that the process of recovering the system is properly coordinated and runs smoothly, so we can get power back to customers as quickly as possible.

SRAS is the first step in recovering the power system, if one of these major blackouts were to occur. These are the services that kickstart the process of getting power back online and restoring supply to customers.

SRAS are procured by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). SRAS are currently provided by generators with the capability to start, or remain in service, without electricity being provided from the grid. Once an SRAS provider has restarted its own plant, it provides energy to restart other generators and commence the processes required to restore the power system. This process is then carefully managed by AEMO, networks and other generators so that power is restored to customers as quickly as possible.

The Commission has received two rule change requests in relation to SRAS:

  • AEMO has proposed rule changes to: 
    • deliver better SRAS and other restoration services, which are critical to the early stages of getting the system back online. 
    • support better testing of these services, to make sure they work as intended, so that power will be restored to customers as quickly as possible. 
  • The Australian Energy Regulator has proposed changes to streamline the complex process of restoring the system, by making sure that all the parties involved talk to each other and know what they need to do.

The consultation paper considers a range of issues raised by the rule change requests. These include: 

  • expanding the definition of SRAS to include system restoration support services; 
  • changing the SRAS Procurement Objective; 
  • the governance arrangements that should apply to more extensive and ongoing testing of SRAS; 
  • whether generators should be required to be capable of providing one or more types of SRAS; 
  • the roles and responsibilities of network service providers and AEMO in respect of SRAS, including in relation to communication protocols and information provision.

Because the two rule changes share common subject material, the Commission has decided to consider the two rule changes together.

Submissions on the consultation paper are due by 17 October 2019.

This work is part of the AEMC's system security and reliability action plan.

Media: Prudence Anderson, Communication Director, 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817