The availability of gas to run a turbine at an Adelaide power station during a blackout in 2017 will be a key issue in Federal Court action taken against its operators by the Australian Energy Regulator.
The regulator alleges the operators of the Pelican Point plant failed to notify the Australian Energy Market Operator of its generating capacity at a time when SA was experiencing heatwave conditions, high customer demand and reduced power availability.
Those conditions led AEMO to order load shedding to take about 30,000 users off the network for a period of time on February 8 that year.
However, a computer glitch meant distribution company SA Power Networks actually cut power to 90,000 properties.
In its action, the AER alleges that Pelican Point did not disclose to AEMO that one of the generators at its Pelican Point Power Station was capable of being made available on 24 hours’ notice.
As a result, it contends AEMO’s ability to manage power system security was impaired.
At a hearing on Friday, the court was told an issue of whether the particular turbine at Pelican Point could have been operated on the day in question because of its physical condition would no longer be pressed.
That had removed the need for engineering evidence to be called.
The court heard the remaining issues at the trial would include whether there was sufficient gas to run the turbine.
On that basis, a trial lasting five days was considered likely.
No date has yet been set but the parties will return to court later this month for a further case management hearing.
When it launched its action in August last year, the AER said it was seeking declarations, penalties and costs.
But Engie, which operates the Pelican Point facility, rejected the allegations and said it would defend the claims.