Energex employees like Brad Kello were flat out this weekend.
Energex employees like Brad Kello were flat out this weekend. Renee Albrecht

Gympie power grid struggles to keep it's cool

CHANCES are if you were in the Gympie Region this weekend, you were one of the many struggling to keep cool in the oppressive 40+ degree heat.

While some were making the trek out to the beach, many left inland were sealing themselves inside - air-conditioners firing on all systems.

It was what led to over 300 homes losing power sporadically throughout the weekend, the natural result of a power grid under pressure.

"What was really interesting to see was that nearly 40-50% of all the electricity used in the region went to air-conditioning,” says Energex spokesman Danny Donald.

"There were a number of reasons for this - obviously that it was an extreme weather event, but also that we now have more homes with air-conditioning systems than ever before.”

Mr Donald now estimates nearly 76% of all homes in South-East Qld are equipped with some sort of A/C system, up from 70% a mere six years ago.

"And when you have them all running at once, for hours on end just to keep cool, it naturally puts the pressure on,” he says.

He adds that the grid itself held up remarkably well considering the strain put on by so many systems working at once.

"It was a record-breaking weekend in a number of ways, partly because of the amount of power drawn through the system,” he says.

"The previous record was in January 2015, where we saw 4126 megawatts put through - this weekend it hit 4716 megawatts.

"Where things began to breakdown are the suburban power boxes, which just couldn't handle the demand.”

Naturally, the weekend proved to be an incredibly busy time for Energex and other electricity providers throughout the region, many of whom were working consistently to restore power to homes.

"We were on high alert throughout the weekend,” Mr Donald says.

"The conditions we're under when we're expecting a major thunderstorm? Those were the conditions we were in this weekend.”

Gympie Times


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