South Australian wind farms: requirement to comply with Generator Performance Standards and obligations under the National Electricity Rules

Sector: 
Segment: 
Category: 
Instituted civil proceedings
Release date: 
7 August 2019
Related provisions: 

r.4.15(a)(1) and cl. 4.4.3 and 5.2.5(a)(1) of the National Electricity Rules.

Overview

On 6 August 2019 the AER commenced proceedings against four wind farm operators (AGL, Neoen, Pacific Hydro and Tilt Renewables) concerning the Black System Event in South Australia on 28 September 2016. On that day, severe weather conditions led to significant damage to South Australian transmission lines. This caused voltage disturbances and a subsequent loss of wind generation which contributed to a State-wide black-out, also known as a black system event.

The particulars of the alleged breaches differ amongst each of the relevant wind farms, but can generally be characterised as ride-through contraventions and protection system contraventions.

Generators are required to operate their plant in line with Generator Performance Standards that are agreed with AEMO. These describe how their systems will perform if adverse events occur. This data is required so that AEMO can operate the power system safely and reliably.

The AER is alleging that certain wind turbine generators ceased supplying power in response to voltage disturbances that occurred on 28 September 2016. By not maintaining continuous uninterrupted operation to ride-through low voltage disturbances, as required by their Generator Performance Standards, we allege the generating units at the wind farms contravened the National Electricity Rules. We also allege that each of the relevant wind farms failed to provide automatic protection systems to allow them to meet their Generator Performance Standards and obligations regarding continuous uninterrupted operation.

The AER is seeking declarations, orders for a compliance program, pecuniary penalties and costs.