Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 07, 2023


Electricity Network Stability

189 The Hon. S.L. GAME ().30 November 2022).

1. How many major intersections affected by the power outages caused by the recent storm were appropriately manned by SAPOL or emergency service workers, and how many affected were unmanned?

2. What plan does the government have to ensure outages of this magnitude that saw thousands of homes without power for days do not happen again?

3. What actions has the government taken in response to the power outages that included an aged care home in the Adelaide Hills being without mains power supply for at least five days after the storm?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, and the Minister for Energy and Mining advise:

1. The Traffic Management Centre (TMC) within the Department for Infrastructure advised SAPOL as at 10.18am on 13 November 2022 that there were 41 sets of traffic lights and 30 pedestrian crossings blacked out across Adelaide.

SAPOL South Australian Computer Aided Dispatch (SACAD) records indicate 57 taskings were generated in relation to traffic light malfunctions at the time of the storm event (12 November 2022). Patrols were deployed to 11 major intersections

2. On Saturday 12 November 2022, more than 423,000 lightning strikes and wind gusts of more than 100km/h were recorded in South Australia.

The storm felled trees and branches, causing widespread damage to the electricity infrastructure in the state, with about 500 wires being down in the distribution network managed by SA Power Networks. A transmission tower near Tailem Bend toppled over.

While an individual weather event cannot be solely attributed to climate change, the scientific community expects climate change to cause more intense weather events more frequently.

The South Australian government is working to ensure that this sub-national jurisdiction is a global leader in the worldwide effort that is required to ameliorate the effects of climate change.

Unfortunately, there are elements in the Australian political landscape—such as the One Nation party nationally, which deny the overwhelming scientific evidence and regularly do whatever they can to stop Australia playing its role in the worldwide effort.

Members of parties such as One Nation who do have a scientific understanding would be well advised to work within their party to help their colleagues understand the severe harm being caused to Australia by denial of climate change and the thwarting of action to mitigate against the risks.

In terms of hardening South Australia's electricity infrastructure, capital investment plans by SA Power Networks and by transmission company ElectraNet are regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator.

Undergrounding power infrastructure would cost many billions of dollars.

Capital costs are ultimately borne by consumers and the AER assesses the balance between the gains to be made by capital investment versus the cost to consumers.

3. Repairs to power supply to an aged-care home in the Adelaide Hills following the storm were complex and time-consuming because both high and low voltage connections were damaged.

Nonetheless, the home's operator were reported as confirming that back-up generators were used during the outage and residents retained access to hot water, hot meals, supplementary oxygen, electric bed adjustments, mobile phone charging and other services.

It should be noted that electricity consumers can register that they are dependent on power supply for critical, life-supporting equipment. Consumers should contact their retailer, which will notify SA Power Networks about the consumer's situation.