THE final report on the Essential Services Commission of South Australia’s (ESCOSA) inquiry into the reliability and quality of electricity supply on the Eyre Peninsula has shown residents have become conditioned to power outages.
Regions near Elliston, Penong, and Cowell have been the hardest hit with outages and in the last 10 years have had the greatest total minutes without power on Eyre Peninsula.
ESCOSA’s inquiry found the best way to ensure a reliable power supply in the short term, within two years, was to focus on localised supply.
The report said installing diesel generators near Yadnarie, Ceduna and Streaky Bay would be the most cost effective short-term measure.
It said supplementing those generators with distributed solar PV (photovoltaic) and batteries would provide greater reliability benefits over time but would be outweighed by their additional cost above diesel generation.
The report’s suggested medium term options, to be implemented in the next three to five years, included re-insulating feeders prone to lightning strikes.
The best long-term options identified in the report are largely dependent on the future electricity demand on Eyre Peninsula, namely whether or not the Iron Road magnetite project goes ahead.
The report said if the Iron Road project went ahead, electricity infrastructure would need to be augmented and, or duplicated to support the higher demand.
“As the primary cause for the change in demand, any network augmentation would largely be funded by Iron Road,” the report said.
However, if the mine does not go ahead, the report found that ElectraNet would at least have to replace the existing Cultana to Port Lincoln transmission line, which is at the end of its useful life and was being considered by ElectraNet through its regulatory investment test process.
The commission will consider the options in its upcoming review of the reliability standards, taking into account customers’ willingness to contribute toward the cost of the improvements before changing any standards.
The report also recommended that SA Power Networks continue to monitor and report voltage outcomes at six Eyre Peninsula sites to the Technical Regulator after the inquiry reference group indicated that voltage delivered in some areas might be outside regulatory requirements and affecting customers’ equipment.