Summer power interruptions

Each year SA Power Networks undertakes a comprehensive planned program across the State to prepare for summer and the bushfire season. We do this to ensure we have the network in good shape to cope with higher demand and also to ensure the safety of the network and the public. Preparations include vegetation clearance; replacement or capacity upgrades for transformers; upgrading of substations; and an upgrade of call centre services and our social media sites so customers have even better access to information.

But whether it is summer, winter, autumn or spring, we can't guarantee there won't be an event affecting supply. That's why we say 'Don't be surprised by an outage, be prepared.' We recommend you plan for the rare times when you might be without power, particularly if you rely on life-saving equipment or equipment such as water pumps.

How has SA Power Networks prioritised customer service this summer?

We have an overflow call centre with up to 50 extra staff able to assist in major outage situations and our automated telephone messaging system is continually being upgraded to provide better information about outage events. We continue to review and refine our supply restoration efforts and have mobile generators, mobile street transformers and mobile substations on standby to assist with managing peak loads and as a back-up should there be a major network incident. Aerial and ground patrols work in tandem to inspect powerlines across the State, and SA Power Networks works with the Bureau of Meteorology to obtain early forecasts on storms and prolonged heatwaves that may affect the network.

What causes power interruptions during summer?

Most power interruptions affecting larger groups of customers impact the high voltage part of the network. These outages are caused by traffic accidents, storms, animals, trees, contractors hitting our lines and wear and tear on equipment. Unexpected local increases in power demand from some residential customers (usually from new air conditioners in an extended heatwave) may cause some small street transformers to overheat or fuses to blow (as they are designed to do), resulting in a very localised power interruption affecting the low voltage part of our network.

What happens when there is a power interruption?

While we have remote monitoring of the high voltage portion of our network, we rely on customers to report outages so we can respond to issues in the low voltage network that delivers power to homes and most businesses. SA Power Networks' priority is to make safe any hazardous situations and restore supply to customers as quickly as possible. Following notification of an outage and depending on the number and priority of jobs, a crew is then dispatched to patrol, repair and restore power to the area affected. If no fault is found then the line is sectioned and power restored progressively in each section until the fault is located and repaired. 

What impact will the risk of bushfires have on the electricity supply?

Under extreme weather conditions - high winds and temperatures - it may be necessary to switch off the power in bushfire risk areas to ensure the safety of people and property. We will regularly update local media to help keep you informed.

Does demand for electricity often out-run supply?

Generally, there is more than sufficient generation capacity in the national electricity network to meet demand. However, from time to time there may be upstream issues in the transmission network or amongst generators that impact supply or the security of the national electricity network. In such cases, SA Power Networks may be required to implement load shedding.

Who is responsible for load shedding interruptions?

Load shedding is carried out by SA Power Networks at the request of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). We will rotate load shedding so that if your area is affected, it will only be for about 30 – 45 minutes. We will rotate load shedding through suburbs until advised by AEMO that we can resume normal operations.

What should members of the public consider doing from a power point of view over summer?

People who are reliant on life-saving equipment should at all times have a back up plan in place, potentially including back up power generation and/or evacuation arrangements. People living in bushfire risk areas should consider their needs in terms of back up systems for power, including for water pumping. People also should be aware that if power is not available, services such as traffic lights may not be operating along a planned evacuation route.

What should members of the public NOT do?

People should not approach damaged electrical infrastructure and should keep others away, especially where lines are on the ground, as they may be live. They should contact the emergency services or SA Power Networks immediately and identify the location of the fault.

Can the public help at all?

Members of the public can assist by:

  • Advising SA Power Networks if they observe any damage to power lines or other electricity distribution equipment.
  • Advising SA Power Networks where they are aware electricity has been restored to their area but they are not receiving power.
  • Utilising our online reporting tool and checking on estimated restoration times on our website or listening to our recorded messaging service (telephone 13 13 66) regarding faults and not staying on line unnecessarily.