A key focus is customers who are served by Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) powerlines.
Jess Vonthethoff, GM Customer & Community at SA Power Networks, said these 19,000 Volt powerlines serve about 30 per cent of South Australia, connecting farms and other rural properties to the electricity network.
“SWER lines were built as early as the 1950s and offered a cheap and efficient way to build and deliver power supply to customers in more scattered communities,” said Vonthethoff.
“These SWER lines have served us reasonably well, but by their nature – long single-strand lines traversing hills, valleys, farms and pasture country – they are subject to a variety of interruptions caused by the usual suspects such as bad weather and equipment failure, but finding and fixing faults can take a long time.
“We are particularly aware that not all SWER-supplied customers are getting the standard of service we believe is acceptable today, with some experiencing many days without power each year. We want to talk to them about that and the emergence of new technologies, including Stand Alone Power Systems (SAPS), which may offer an alternative.”
Dr Andrew Nance, Chair of the Customer Consultative Panel that will conduct the research, said that while technology has come a long way, customer input was essential before developing proposals to discuss with other stakeholders and regulators that determine network spending.
“We have established a working group to better understand the experiences of the worst served customers in South Australia. They are mostly people in remote areas served by SWER. We want to talk to these customers about being supplied by a SWER line and test the interest in SAPS,” Nance said.
Karina Ewer, CEO of the District Council of Streaky Bay and member of the panel said the consultation will help inform thinking about future options for supplying remote customers.
“We will take those options to bodies such as the Australian Energy Market Commission, Australian Energy Regulator and Essential Services Commission of SA,” Ewer said.
The Customer Consultative Panel is proposing a mix of engagement, including online forums, focus groups and a series of Community Information Sessions in regional areas in 2021 to understand regional issues and seek customer insights and feedback.
Customers interested in participating can contact Alexandra Lewis on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 13 12 61.
SA Power Networks is a sponsor of Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase Awards. Voting for the finalists begins in November and winners will be announced on 20 November and will appear in InDaily.