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Queenslanders are facing power outages as electricity generators dial back their output in response to a cap on wholesale prices, which quadrupled in a year.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has issued an alert warning of possible blackouts for the south-east of Queensland and the east coast between 5.30pm and 8pm on Monday, and again on Tuesday morning. 

AEMO is monitoring reserve conditions closely in Queensland and New South Wales. 

Residents have been urged to turn down heaters and switch off household appliances to conserve power.

Pictured is a high voltage electricity transmission tower is seen in the foreground of the Brisbane CBD skyline in Brisbane, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Queenslanders could have power outages on Monday night and Tuesday morning

Pictured is a high voltage electricity transmission tower is seen in the foreground of the Brisbane CBD skyline in Brisbane, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Queenslanders could have power outages on Monday night and Tuesday morning

The operator has imposed a cap on electricity spot prices of $300 per megawatt after seven consecutive days of surging wholesale prices.

‘As a consequence of the administered price cap in Queensland, AEMO has seen generation bids reduce,’ the company said in a statement.

The operator said with a lack of reserve electricity in the system, demand could exceed supply in parts of Queensland connected to the National Energy Market (NEM) from early Monday evening.

‘AEMO will take available actions to deliver additional supply or demand reduction, to maintain power system security,’ it said.

‘AEMO will continue to monitor reserve conditions closely in Queensland, NSW and more broadly across the NEM, providing further updates should conditions change.’

The market operator said it would monitor Queensland’s wholesale spot prices, which have quadrupled in the year to March.

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The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) said earlier this month the state’s wholesale prices, which are the highest in the nation, are unlikely to fall before 2024.

Powerlink Queensland Chief Executive Paul Simshauser urged people to cut back on electric use wherever they can.

Pictured is a power outage before the start of the NRL trial match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at Barlow Park on February 17, 2018 in Cairns, Queensland

Pictured is a power outage before the start of the NRL trial match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at Barlow Park on February 17, 2018 in Cairns, Queensland 

‘There is an unusual combination of unexpected generator outages plus cool winter temperatures and high demand for electricity,’ he said.

Residents should heat only one room where possible and turn off appliances, pool pumps and electronics on standby mode.

Retailers have been asked to cut back on lighting, advertising displays and water heating systems.

‘By carefully managing electricity use at home and in your workplace, the community can help ensure that power system security is maintained in Queensland,’ Mr Simshauser said.

Part of the problem for Queensland is that 70 per cent of its generation comes from fossil fuels, and generators are suspected of bidding higher to profit from surging international coal and gas prices.

In the year to March, wholesale electricity prices have soared by 141 per cent, prompting one power company boss to urge his 70,000 customers to switch provider (pictured, Liddell power station in Muswellbrook)

In the year to March, wholesale electricity prices have soared by 141 per cent, prompting one power company boss to urge his 70,000 customers to switch provider (pictured, Liddell power station in Muswellbrook)

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni has denied Stanwell and C S Energy are price gouging, saying they only bid to ‘cover costs’ and that he won’t direct them to lower their bids.

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‘Queenslanders have conserved energy in situations like this before … I’m confident Queenslanders will be able to do it again.’

Liberal National Party spokesman Pat Weir said the power crisis was forcing employers to shut down.

‘Queensland already has the highest power prices in the country and now we’re being warned that the lights may not even stay on,’ Mr Weir said.

Millions of Australians will be forced to pay up to an extra $270 a year for their electricity as one of the largest energy providers hikes up its prices. Pictured is a couple looking at a bill

Millions of Australians will be forced to pay up to an extra $270 a year for their electricity as one of the largest energy providers hikes up its prices. Pictured is a couple looking at a bill

‘Major employers are tonight shutting down and Queenslanders’ lifestyles are being impacted because of a government that has failed to plan for the future.’

Households will get about $44 off their monthly power bills from July under a one-off Queensland government rebate, with bills set to rise by at least $41 to $55.

The AER is thought likely to allow Queensland household and business bills to rise again before the end of the year or in early 2023.

Millions of Australians will be forced to pay up to an extra $270 a year for their electricity as one of the largest energy providers hikes up their prices.

Origin Energy announced on Friday it will raise its rates by 14.4 per cent for residents living in New South Wales on July 1. Pictured is an Origin Energy logo

Origin Energy announced on Friday it will raise its rates by 14.4 per cent for residents living in New South Wales on July 1. Pictured is an Origin Energy logo

Origin Energy announced on Friday it will raise its rates by 14.4 per cent for residents living in New South Wales on July 1.

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The energy provider will hike prices by 13.7 per cent, or $223, in Queensland and 10.4 per cent, or $180, in South Australia.

Victorian households will be slapped with higher electricity rates in January.

In the year to March, wholesale electricity prices have soared by 141 per cent across Australia, prompting one power company boss to urge his 70,000 customers to switch provider.

Origin executive general manager of retail Jon Briskin said the company was ‘absorbing some of the higher energy costs’ to reduce the rate increases passed down to customers. 

Why are power prices soaring? 

1. Coal-fired generators failing: More than 25 per cent have been offline for much of the year

2. Domestic gas shortages: Sources especially offshore in Victoria are running low and new development has been hindered 

3. Ukraine-Russia war: European nations are moving away from Russian gas to punish Vladimir Putin, pushing up global prices 

4. Cold snap: The cold snap in the east has led to increased demand

Source: Tony Wood, Grattan Institute  

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