Synergy will need to ‘blend’ coal imported from NSW due to ‘high ash content’ as it scrambles to keep lights on

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State-owned West Australian power provider Synergy is facing questions about whether it paid millions of dollars to import the wrong type of coal as it scrambles to keep the lights on this summer.

Later this month, Synergy will take delivery of the first of two 50,000-tonne shipments of New South Wales coal, believed to be costing the utility tens of millions of dollars.

Synergy was left scrambling for the imports in October when it emerged that a deepening crisis in the coal mining and power generation hub of Collie, south of Perth, would leave it short of supplies.

At the time, Premier Mark McGowan blamed a wettish winter and operating difficulties at one of the town’s two coal mines for the unprecedented decision, which Energy Minister Bill Johnston also said was “not ideal”.

There are growing fears about the security of the state’s biggest electricity grid heading into what is forecast to be a scorching summer.

A long shot of Perth's CBD at sunset, with a bright orange and yellow sky enveloping the city skyline.
There are growing fears of a looming energy crisis in WA, which is poised for a sweltering summer.,ABC News: Jon Sambell,

Major coal supply shortages have combined with a gas crunch caused by last week’s leak at a critical offshore well and outages at several big plants to put pressure on the system.

Coal unsuitable due to high ash content

In a further blow, it is believed the coal due to arrive at Bunbury port next week is unsuited for use in Synergy’s coal plants at Collie because of its high ash content.

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