Mr COWDREY (Colton) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister update the house on summer readiness activities?
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:30): Thank you to the member for Colton for this important question. Summer readiness with regard to electricity supply in South Australia is an incredibly important issue. We are working very hard on it. Mr Speaker, you will remember that last summer was the first summer in quite a while when we did not have any forced load shedding for electricity supply in South Australia. We were very pleased to be able to deliver that in the Marshall Liberal government’s first summer in office.
The other thing is that we don’t take this lightly. Every summer is a challenge for South Australia. We are working diligently to improve the electricity system that we inherited from the previous government with regard to both affordability and reliability. We take every summer very seriously. AEMO’s forecast for this summer is that things will be tight, but AEMO is optimistic that we will get through with regard to the supply-demand balance. But we don’t just rest on that.
We don’t just say, ‘AEMO says it will be okay, so we will leave it at that.’ Through the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, we have given Torrens Island A an extension of life through this summer. Members will remember that this power station was due to be mothballed back in mid-2017. For various reasons, that was not possible. They were going to stay closed, but they have sought from our government the opportunity to stay open, which we have worked through in a responsible way. We have decided to make sure that we do allow that to happen.
We are looking forward to the opening of AGL’s Barker Inlet power station very shortly. That will help us enormously. We also have the backup generators, which will operate this summer in the same way they have for the last few summers. They will operate even more usefully after that when they are leased to operators who will not only have them in service at times of emergency but also have them operating throughout the rest of the year.
We are doing everything we possibly can to deliver on our commitments: more affordable, more reliable and cleaner electricity for the people of South Australia. Coming into the summer period is a very key time for us. I have met with key industry supply chain participants, not just the generators but the gas pipeline operators, the distribution network operators, the transmission network operators and the retailers.
We are all pulling together to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this summer South Australian homes, businesses and, importantly, employers are able to operate. We are also implementing some new policies with regard to interaction with these organisations so that we can be sure that cooperation is at the forefront of everything we are doing. We do not want to end up in a very tight situation, wishing that we had contemplated how we would react to that situation earlier and then making decisions on the run.
We are working with all these organisations so that we can do everything we possibly can. It is important for me to point out that the Loy Yang power station in Victoria remains offline, but it is predicted to come back online in December, just in time for summer. I know that in Victoria, even for their own purposes, they are doing everything they possibly can to make that happen, and that will be important for South Australia as well.