Eyre Peninsula Power Supply

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:29): I rise today to talk about a report that has come down over the last couple of days from the Essential Services Commission of South Australia into the reliability and quality of electricity supply on Eyre Peninsula. It has been long awaited. It has been a long time coming.

The statewide blackout, which happened on 28 September last year, really brought things to a head, but the reality is that much of the West Coast, places such as Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Elliston and even Cowell, had been experiencing frequent outages and unreliability for some time prior to that. As I have said in this place before, Eyre Peninsula turned out to be the canary in the coalmine as far as electricity reliability and supply relates to the rest of South Australia and, indeed, the whole nation.

The Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy formally referred an inquiry in March to ESCOSA, following a meeting with Eyre Peninsula mayors and CEOs. I will give credit where credit is due and I appreciate the Minister for Energy referring that inquiry. The terms of reference for the inquiry were:

a) The Commission is to inquire into prudent and efficient options for improving the reliability and quality of electricity supply to electricity customers on the Eyre Peninsula.

b) The Commission is to consider, in particular, the following matters:

i. Electricity reliability and quality of supply outcomes to customers on the Eyre Peninsula during the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2016.

ii. Prudent and efficient options for improving the incentives to ElectraNet and SA Power Networks, to upgrade current network infrastructure and restore supply following an outage.

iii. Possible technical solutions for improving reliability and quality of electricity supply on the Eyre Peninsula and potential costs to consumers of implementing those solutions.

and of course, as per usual—

iv. Any other related matters.

Many options are canvassed in the report, including the installation of small diesel generators, possibly coupled with solar and battery systems, near Yadnarie, Ceduna and Streaky Bay, as well as the hardening or reinsulating of feeders to make them more resilient during lightning strikes.

As recently as Sunday, the township of Elliston went offline following a strong wind and lightning event. The residents of Elliston are becoming all too used to this. Having said that, I recently travelled to Elliston and noticed three SAPN trucks, no doubt undertaking upgrade work, and I was pleased to see that. However, once again Elliston was offline off and on for about 24 hours following that weather event. I note the hardening of the distribution network owned and operated by South Australian Power Networks could take place over the next three to five years, having already begun.

The report also explores the feasibility of an upgrade of the main 132-kilovolt transmission line owned and operated by ElectraNet. Of course, that upgrade has been on the table for some years now and, once again, I have spoken in this place about that. There will be a business case necessary for that. An improvement in the transmission line from Cultana down to Yadnarie and then across to Wudinna and down to Port Lincoln will improve transmission capacity and reliability into Eyre Peninsula, but it will also create the potential to export out of the national grid should any localised generation occur.

The answer to my question to the minister today relating to diesel generators—that is, when they are likely to be installed— really put the ball fairly and squarely away from the government and back to private investors. That said, the government has been quite clear that they will install diesel generators in some places but apparently not in others.

I commend the report. I was pleased to see the results and its recommendations. It will now be for the community of Eyre Peninsula, the Regional Development Board and investors, along with the state government, to come to a solution to these issues which have really become manifest more completely in the last 18 months.

 

 

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