I don't know about you, but until a couple of weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea how Australia's energy market worked.
But, with daily reports that the east coast energy supply is under threat, it seems like we've all had a crash course in how it works. Now everyone's an armchair expert and can quote acronyms like AEMO or NEM and knows all about price caps - and also has an opinion on who is to blame and what needs to be done to fix it.
I was in Kembla Grange for a kids birthday party on Saturday afternoon around 3pm, and while the children rode ponies and patted rabbits, the grown ups watched a giant plume of smoke rising in the south.
As the first news reports filtered through about what was happening, we heard that Tallawarra Power Station was on fire.
While this was quickly corrected and we learnt that the fire was actually in a Transgrid substation at Yallah, talk had already turned to the energy crisis and whether what we were seeing was somehow linked to power prices and supply issues.
Just five days ago, the Mercury reported that the plant had doubled production to stave off risks of blackouts, so the group of parents I was with on Saturday began to wonder what the fire would mean for our power as we returned home that afternoon.
As it turned out, the fire was due to a mechanical failure in a redundant transformer, and the nearby power station at Tallawarra was only turned off for a couple of hours due to safety precautions.
The Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed there was no threat to energy supply - not a single home in the Illawarra had its power affected - and emergency services worked hard overnight to contain the fire with no threat to public safety.
So it looks like it was just coincidental timing that this happened as the east coast faces power shortages and we're all so focused on electricity and gas supply.
However, watching smoke rise over the region was certainly a reminder that this is a local, as well as national and global issue. It looks like the fire will be out in a couple of days, but - with months of winter ahead, and until a better solution is found - power prices and energy supply will continue to affect all of us.
- Kate McIlwain
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