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Norske Skog will shut down Ettamogah plant to help NSW and Victoria avoid summer blackouts during peak electricity demands


AUSTRALIA (From news reports) -- Albury's Norske Skog paper mill will stop production during peak power demands to help avoid major summer blackouts.

The Border business was among 14 industrial electricity users and producers who have signed contracts with the Australian Energy Market Operator to help avoid large-scale blackouts like those which hit South Australia last summer.

Visy was also included but the company was unable to confirm if its Wodonga plants would be affected.

Under the agreement, Norske Skog would shut down its paper machine and recycled fibre plant for a set time, likely to be between an hour and several hours, during peak demand so its electricity could be used elsewhere across the network.

Norske Skog regional procurement manager Michael Machin said the contract helped provide operational security for the Ettamogah plant.

"We would much prefer to have a controlled shutdown than to have a breakage on the electrical network which could result in an uncontrolled shutdown," Mr Machin told The Border Mail.

He said without the agreement the market operator could just shut parts of the network down without notice, with an unscheduled emergency shutdown having a much bigger negative impact on production.

"We understand that if there's a thunderstorm or a lightning strike hits a powerline, or a bushfire effects it, we're like everyone else in the local area, whether it be big business or a private consumer, we just have to wear it," Mr Machin said.

"But where you can foresee some things, you need to be in the game to avoid those nasties if you can help it.

"That's what we're trying to avoid, given the events in Victoria and South Australia last summer."

AEMO would pay Norske Skog for the shutdowns but it would result in a financial loss for the mill.

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