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Energy market suspension set to be lifted

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An unprecedented suspension of the wholesale electricity market will be lifted on Friday afternoon, the market operator says.

The Australian Energy Market Operator said it was possible to return to regular operation of the national electricity market, with the intervention to end at 2pm AEST.

“We are currently seeing more normal electricity bidding and dispatching through AEMO’s automated resources, along with reduced electricity shortfalls and fewer manual interventions needed by AEMO,” the operator said in a statement.

AEMO announced the suspension last week after a series of events — including coal-fired power station shutdowns, a cold snap across the east coast and spiking gas prices — made it impossible to continue operating the spot market while keeping the lights on for consumers and businesses.

The operator said it expected conditions to remain “dynamic in the short term” once the suspension was lifted.

Earlier, Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the onus fell on the energy minister to improve reliability, noting power prices decreased during the coalition’s tenure in government but rose when Labor was last in power.

“Chris Bowen now has created this situation where you’ve got uncertainty about supply. Pensioners have been told over winter to prepare for blackouts or hospitals being told to not keep all of their electricity running,” he said.

“That’s a dire situation and I just don’t think Chris Bowen has a handle on it.”

While international circumstances such as the war in Ukraine sent shockwaves through global energy markets, Labor has laid part of the blame of the current energy shortfall at the feet of the coalition, saying a decade of underinvestment in renewables has led to failures in the grid.

The prime minister said he was confident energy prices could be lowered following investment in new energy sources.

“The problem at the moment is that renewables can’t fit into the grid and all of the new energy investment, that’s where it’s headed, towards renewables, because it’s the cheapest form,” Mr Albanese told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

“We need to get it right. I’m confident that we can, and in the medium term start to see real improvements, start to see that lowering of energy prices.”

– AAP

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