South Australian Minister for Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, has asked the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) to investigate measures to improve power reliability on the Eyre Peninsula, following recent damage to transmission lines caused by extreme weather.

The request comes after Mr Koutsantonis met with West Coast mayors and CEOs to discuss issues relating to recent power outages in the region.

The meeting raised a  number of issues including:

  • The costs to businesses of power outages
  • Concerns that infrastructure is aging
  • The impact of outages on essential service
  • The quality of communication and updates about outages
  • Mobile phone coverage during outages

The Eyre Peninsula is supplied by a 132kV transmission line that is owned and operated by the private transmission company Electranet. Because of this, damage to transmission lines impact all downstream customers.

At a local level the poles and wires are owned and operated by SA Power Networks, which supplies 24,000 customers in the region.

ESCOSA will investigate and make recommendations on what measures can be taken to incentivise the private owners of the transmission and distribution networks, Electranet and SA Power Networks, to upgrade current infrastructure and reconnect supply quicker after damaging storm events.

The Office of the Technical Regulator will provide advice on the technical aspects of the investigation.

ESCOSA will also investigate and report on the costs associated with each potential reliability measure they recommend and who would be required to bear those costs.

“The Eyre Peninsula has suffered during this period of catastrophic storms, with some of the worst damage – and longest outages – affecting this region,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“The SES has reported a three-fold increase in callouts resulting from severe weather in the past 12 months compared to the year before. That weather has caused unprecedented damage to the grid.”

“Unfortunately, South Australia’s electricity network is owned by two private companies, so the options in terms of what the State Government can do to improve the resilience of the grid during major storms are limited.” 

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