A ruling on reliability standards for South Australia’s electricity network will help keep a lid on power prices, the state’s peak welfare agency says.
The Essential Services Commission of South Australia says SA Power Networks can spend about $37 million from 2020 to 2025 to ensure the reliability of its network, similar to the amount allocated for the current five-year period.
It says consumers have limited willingness to pay more for further reliability improvements, something the South Australian Council of Social Service says would have come at a ‘massive cost’ to the public.
‘SACOSS has long recognised that reduced prices remain the overwhelming priority for consumers,’ spokesman Jo De Silva said.
‘As you’d expect, given the generally high levels of reliability across the network, consumers also have limited willingness to pay extra for even more improvements.’
In its latest review, ESCOSA has also endorsed changes to the reliability guarantee that provides payments to consumers who experience power failures.
Rather than provide payments for individual outages, SA Power Networks will now be required to compensate consumers who experience ongoing or persistent reliability issues.
The change is expected to further help contain power prices.
‘We estimate that, if the new provisions had applied over the first three years of the current period, there would have been a cost reduction of around 40 per cent, or about $5 million per year, which would also flow through to reduced electricity costs,’ chief executive Adam Wilson said.
SACOSS said this decision was ‘well reasoned’ as the scheme should not be confused with separate provisions to compensate for loss or damage suffered by consumers or with the responsibility households had to maintain adequate insurance.
‘Coming at a time of year when consumers are highly aware of having to use more energy to keep cool, this decision continues to put downward pressure on prices and will provide welcome relief to those hardest hit by South Australia’s high energy prices,’ Mr De Silva said.