Power supply was disrupted in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday thanks to the worst accident at a generation facility in the region in seven years. Around 1.5 million people in the region, and also in Siberia, were left without power due to a short circuit on the electricity transmission line.
The accident led to the stopping of eight passenger trains and a temporary halt to power exports to the Chinese city of Haihe. Experts estimate the impact of the damage at US$3.3 million. Power supply was restored after several hours.
The cause of the accident in the Far East power grid was a short circuit on one of the trunk power lines, according to the Energy Ministry. The accident triggered a safety switch that stopped power transmission along five above-ground high-voltage lines, including the one that runs between the Amur area and the city of Heihe in the Chinese province of Heilongjiang. Some 477 megawatts of power supply meant for export to China was stopped, according to the Energy Ministry.
As a result of the accident, according to power engineers, more than 1.5 million people were left without electricity in the Far East. It also led to the shutdown of the Blagoveshchenskaya thermal power plant and power units at two large hydroelectric stations – Zeya and Bureyskaya. Delays to eight passenger trains and one commuter train occurred on the Trans-Baikal and Far Eastern railway lines. The power cut affected 1250 MW of capacity.
“An accurate assessment will be available after it becomes clear what losses have been incurred by specific consumers, and their attitude. Are they ready, for example, to demand compensation from energy companies for violation of power supply?”
Later, a representative of the Haihe Administration told reporters that the failure of electricity supplies from Russia to China had no impact on life in the city, as it was promptly replaced by an increase in output from Chinese power plants.
Experts call this energy accident the largest in Russia over the past seven years.
“The Khabarovsk territory was affected most of all, where 730,000 consumers remained without power supply,” the deputy head of the Economic Department of the Institute of Energy and Finance, Sergei Kondratiev, told Asia Times. “In Amur territory, 498,000 consumers were affected and in the Primorsky territory it was 430,000 consumers.” He estimated that 1.68 million people lost access to electricity and that this was the largest blackout since one in St. Petersburg in 2010.
The financial cost to Russia of the accident could reach US$3.3 million, he added. “An accurate assessment will be available after it becomes clear what losses have been incurred by specific consumers, and their attitude. Are they ready, for example, to demand compensation from energy companies for violation of power supply? Probably, the total losses could amount to US$2.8million and US$3.3 million. For example, the assessment of damage from the blackout in St. Petersburg in 2010 was US$1.7 million. Then, more than 2.5 million people were left without access to power. However, the severity of the actual accident was significantly less.”