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It's colder than Antarctica - but he's in NSW

From Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Richard Macey
July 18, 2007

CLIMATE change may be a global crisis, but with parts of NSW colder than Antarctica yesterday it seems we would rather keep cosy than bother about the environment.

NSW this week set its third electricity consumption record in a month. Experts blamed residents turning up their heaters and reverse cycle air-conditioners to fend off the unusually chilly winter.

On Monday evening, as Sydney began shivering through its coldest night in 21 years, NSW was using 13,825 megawatts - surpassing even summer's demand peak, and breaking the two records set on June 20 and 27.

NSW's hunger for heat on Monday drove consumption on the national grid to a record 33,027 mega-watts, smashing the previous peak of 32,579 megawatts, also set on June 20.

Paul Bird, of the National Electricity Market Management Company, which oversees the national grid, said the similarity between the soaring power demand in the state, and across the nation, suggested most of the increased consumption had been in NSW. "NSW is driving the higher demand to keep warm," he said. With the cold weather keeping people home, televisions and other domestic applian-ces were also burning more power.

While NSW's extra electricity demand virtually equalled the output of a typical 500 megawatt genera-tor, Mr Bird said there had been no supply problems.

The mercury at Observatory Hill plunged early yesterday to 3.7 degrees, making it the coldest night since 1986. The NRMA received 950 calls for help from stranded motorists, a 30 per cent rise. Many calls involved batteries that had failed in the cold. At 11am the temperature near Thredbo was still minus 7 degrees. But after taking into account the wind chill created by gusts blowing at more than 100kmh, the "apparent temperature" was minus 28. At Australia's Casey Station in Antarctica, the 11am apparent temperature was minus 21.

Snowy Hydro says the snow depth at Spencers Creek, near Charlotte Pass, is about 130 centimetres, far above the 48 centimetres this time last year.

A cold front sweeping into NSW from Victoria yesterday was set to bring chilly weather to Sydney today. Canberra, Orange, Goulburn, the Blue Mountains and the Snowy Mountains could all expect overnight snow.

The weather bureau issued a severe weather warning, including hazardous winds and blizzard con-ditions for the Snowy Mountains above 1900 metres.


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