Huge price increases
The Queensland average “wholesale” price (Regional Reference Price) for electricity on 17 December 2014 was $1,965 per MegaWatt Hour. Usually it is in the region of $30-40. At a typical price of $30 per MWh consumers might be paying 15c per kWh, which is 5 times the wholesale price. At this new price of nearly $2000 per MWh and assuming the same markup, the consumer would be paying $10 per kWh – an enormous increase.
The price spikes that have been occurring in Queensland recently have been for isolated 5 minute periods only. Today the “spike” to $13,499 lasted from 3:45pm to 5:20pm and was preceded by a 15 minute spike and followed by a 10 minute spike.
Not caused by generator failure
The Dispatch plots for the individual Queensland generator don’t show any obvious generator failures. The gas generators that normally handle the peak demands can be seen coming online between 10am and 10pm as usual.
Lack of reserve power
The reserve power available just by pressing on the accelerator pedals of online generators dropped to almost 20% at 4:30pm.
I don’t yet have a long term plot of the minimum reserve power on all days but picking 15th April 2014 at random gave the plot below. Perhaps 40% reserve is considered a safe value.
High prices shutting down industry?
In the chart below, demand for power starts to dip after it becomes apparent that the high price is persisting. Demand recovers when prices return to normal.
UPDATE 2014-12-19 The demand dip mentioned here also occurred on the next day when it was not preceded by any high prices, so the speculation that high prices shutting down industry was false. In fact the dip in demand at about 6pm occurs almost every day in Queensland. [Take 100 demerits for not checking before writing]
OAKEY1 Gas Generator – Local price
There were some early price spikes between 1:30pm and 2:30pm which preceded a spike in the “local price” of OAKEY1 down to -$14,000 per MegaWatt Hour. The generator appeared to be running normally at full power from 10am to after 8pm, so this spike remains a mystery.
Let the reader beware
This site is not my day job. It was started only to see the power generated by various generator types/fuels against the background of power demand. I have a Bsc( Elec Eng) from 1969, but that was before the invention of electricity. I don’t have an insiders knowledge of the power industry. All the base data comes from the AEMO site but there is a certain amount of fallible human programming before the charts appear. The plots seem plausible to me but that could be because of my white, male, capitalist, military background. Do some independent checking before readjusting your super or starting a riot on the contents of this site.