Load shedding

Load shedding means switching off supply to parts of the electricity network, to ensure safety.

What is it?

If the demand for electricity is more than the supply available, it can put a lot of stress on the network and cause long-term damage to assets and widespread power outages.

Load shedding means temporarily switching off supply to parts of the electricity network, to keep the network safe and stable. In this case, ‘load’ is another word for ‘demand’.

Although rare, all distribution companies use load shedding as a last resort to help manage supply and demand.

Who decides when it happens?

The decision to load shed is made by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which is responsible for maintaining the reliability and security of the National Electricity Market (NEM).

AEMO try to exhaust all other options before directing distribution businesses to load shed to prevent the risk of asset damage and widespread outages.

How does it work?

AEMO identifies how much power needs to be saved and how long load shedding needs to occur for this to happen. They then give us 30 minutes notice to disconnect supply to parts of our network to balance supply and demand. 

The outages are shared across the network. Customers are usually only disconnected for one to two hours and the outage is then shifted to another area.

There are two main types of load shedding:

  • automatic load shedding – to protect the network, our electricity equipment automatically switches off if it detects a sudden disruption in the electricity network
  • manual load shedding – the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) directs us to load shed. This happens if demand is more than the maximum power supply available at the time.

What causes load shedding?

Load shedding happens when there is an imbalance in demand and supply. This is usually caused by:

  • Weather: strong winds, storms, bushfires or heat waves.
  • High electricity demand: usually during peak periods, like summer.
  • Generation: difficulty generating enough supply or unexpected loss of generation.
  • Asset damage: caused by a system fault or a significant weather event. This includes damaged power poles or powerlines.

What do you need to do?

While we don’t want any customers to be without power, we cannot guarantee when a load shedding event will occur. It’s important to always be power prepared.

On extremely hot days, when demand on our electricity network is usually at its highest, you can choose to reduce your power usage. Only do this is you’re not sensitive to heat and always consider any health conditions you may have.

By reducing power usage, you are helping to reduce demand on the network and save on your power bills as well.

For more information and tips, see Power prepared.