The AER has initiated legal action over a power station incident. 

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has launched legal proceedings against Callide Power Trading Pty Ltd (CPT). 

This action, filed in the Federal Court, stems from CPT's failure to meet prescribed performance standards at the Callide C power station, leading to a widespread power outage in Queensland.

On the afternoon of 25 May 2021, a critical incident at the Callide C power station triggered the trip of several generators and high voltage transmission lines across Queensland. 

The failure resulted in the disconnection of roughly 3,045 MW of generation capacity and 2,300 MW of customer load from the power system, leaving countless households and businesses without electricity.

Following an investigation, the AER alleges that CPT, as the Registered Participant for Callide C, violated specific clauses of the National Electricity Rules. 

These alleged breaches pertain to CPT's failure to ensure the Callide C4 generating unit met or exceeded the necessary performance standards, alongside deficiencies in planning, designing, and operating its facilities to comply with these standards. 

Notably, the failure of Callide C4's protection systems to disconnect the unit from the power system was identified as a key factor leading to the cascading generator trips. 

Callide C4 has remained offline since this incident.

AER Board Member, Justin Oliver, has highlighted the critical nature of compliance with generator performance standards for the safe and secure operation of the power system. “Performance standards describe how a generating unit should perform and how it should respond to adverse events. These standards are agreed between the Registered Participant and the Australian Energy Market Operator,” he said. 

Oliver further stressed the consequences of non-compliance, which can jeopardise power system security, disconnect consumers, and lead to spikes in wholesale energy prices.

The AER's legal action seeks various remedies, including pecuniary penalties, declarations, and orders to rectify or prevent future breaches, alongside costs.

This legal action follows previous enforcement activities related to the 25 May 2021 incident, including a $67,800 penalty to CS Energy Limited and six infringement notices totalling $263,400 to Stanwell Corporation Limited for related violations.