About us

The Essential Services Commission (Commission) is an independent economic regulator established under the Essential Services Commission Act 2002, which came into effect on 12 September 2002. The Commission is the same body corporate as the former South Australian Independent Industry Regulator (SAIIR) established in 1999, which was previously responsible for some of the Commission's regulatory functions.

The Commission’s objective, specified in the Essential Services Commission Act 2002 (ESC Act), is the:

“protection of the long term interests of South Australian consumers with respect to the price, quality and reliability of essential services”

The Commission is a high performing and responsive agency, that administers a principles based regulatory and advisory framework focussed on outcomes.

As a statutory authority with responsibilities in the essential services sector and for providing advice to the South Australian Government, the Commission acts independently and objectively in performing functions and exercising powers.

The Commission adds benefit to the South Australian community by ensuring that consumers of regulated services are adequately protected and that entities are accountable for their services, while not imposing unnecessary regulatory costs and burdens. Our robust, independent advice to Government informs, and provides an evidence base for, policy making and public consideration of economic and regulatory issues.

We also recognise that we operate in an environment of multiple regulatory agencies and broad policy considerations. The Commission is a regulatory and advisory body within that context, with defined roles and functions, and does not have a policy remit. It is therefore important that we work with other agencies to ensure a consistent and complementary regulatory approach, focussed on securing the long term wellbeing of all South Australians.

Our Functions


The Commission performs a range of functions across the different industries it regulates, including pricing, licensing, performance monitoring and reporting, compliance and scheme administration. For each industry, the relevant industry regulation Act specifies the scope of the Commission’s role, as summarised in the table.


The Commission has two broad advisory functions. The first is to provide advice to the Treasurer, on request, in relation to any matter (section 5(f) of the Essential Services Commission Act). In that capacity the Commission acts as an advisor to the Government, providing independent advice on economic and regulatory matters. The second is to conduct public Inquiries (Part 7 of the Essential Services Commission Act). Such Inquiries can be initiated by the Commission (into any matters within our regulatory scope), by the Treasurer (into any matter) or by an industry Minister (into any matter concerning a regulated industry).

Legislation Regulatory Functions 
Water Industry Act 2012
  • Water and sewerage retail service providers
  • Licensing
  • Retail price regulation
  • Consumer protection
  • Service/reliability standard setting
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Third party access regime regulator
Electricity Act 1996

Electricity retail operations:

Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and off-grid suppliers:

  • Licensing
  • Network service/reliability standard setting
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
Gas Act 1997

Gas retail operations:

Licensing of retail and distribution LPG gas operations

Licensing of natural gas network operations, standard setting, performance monitoring and reporting

AustralAsia Railway (Third Party Access) Act 1999;

Railway (Operations and Access) Act 1997

Regulation under the AustralAsia (Third Party Access) Code for the Tarcoola-Darwin railway                    

Access regulator for specified intra-state rail lines

Maritime Services (Access) Act 2000 Pricing and access regulator for specified port services