Sydney’s suburban grid too weak for growth

There was a very dirty power cut in one of Sydney’s suburbs due to overload of the grid during a hot summer evening around 8:25 pm when all air-conditioners were running on full throttle. The lights flickered, my son (upstairs) shouted “Fire! The transformer!” and ran out of the house to look what was happening just up the road. We know that trouble spot only too well. The transformer was replaced some years ago, but a cable failed in an earlier power cut  a couple of  months ago. We were told at the time there is overload on one of the phases as a result of too many new subdivisions in the area.

I took this picture (sorry, a bit blurred):

All neighbours had come out of their houses. The transformer was OK, but a cable was burning on a length of around 10 m. The fire was dropping down on dry leaves and burning there, too (I found molten aluminium and burnt insulation next morning). Lucky we are in a La Nina year, the last rain was only weeks ago. In an El Nino year with drought, the fire could have easily spread into the canopy of the trees.

Worse, however, was the ARCING which continued for several minutes. THIS MEANS THE POWER SUPPLIER’S EQUIPMENT DID NOT DETECT THE FIRST ARCING and power was not cut instantly.

Neighbours blocked the road with red cones because the arcing was dangerous. Live wires could have come down.

When the fire brigade arrived, they did not immediately know where the transformer was and first stopped too far away. The fire was put out quickly, the cable replaced on the same evening and power restored at 0:51 am

3 questions need to be answered:

(1) Why are new subdivisions approved by Councils (who are put under pressure by the State government to allocate new housing at an unsustainable rate)  when the grid is so weak?

(2) Why was the power not cut immediately?

(3) Does the fire brigade know about the exact location of critical and vulnerable electrical infrastructure like transformers, substations etc?

Needless to say, global warming means more air conditioning, more power cuts. And then people are dreaming of electric cars, recharging them in hot summer nights? One re-charger would be equal to one air-conditioner. The M2 widening, under construction only a few kms away, assumes electric cars for future traffic growth:

M2 widening: Primary Energy Dilemma for cars

Moreover, the State government wants to whack in more flats. Where will the power come from?

Second Stage of NSW power sale fails

The Treasurer Eric Roozendaal has confirmed that, at the close of bids, there were no companies interested in purchasing the trading rights to the Macquarie and Delta Coastal generators.

Conclusion: the whole Metropolitan strategy which tries to put another 1.2 million into the Sydney basin is completely unrealistic.


Sydney power cuts this afternoon

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Get ready for rolling blackouts as Sydney swelters

Our blackouts are third world

Power bill rises set to double