SA Power Networks

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General information

SA Power Networks’ distribution network covers an area of about 178,200 square km, along a coastline of over 5,000 km. The network extends to over 88,322 km, of which approximately 20 percent is underground. Approximately 70 percent of customers reside in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Adelaide, but 70 percent of the network infrastructure by length is required to deliver energy to the remaining 30 percent of customers.

The Commission regulates the customer service and reliability aspects of SA Power Networks’ electricity distribution operations. SA Power Networks is the monopoly service provider of electricity distribution network services to the majority of South Australian customers.

The Commission does not regulate revenue requirements for SA Power Networks. Under the National Electricity Rules, SA Power Networks is subject to economic regulation, by the Australian Energy Regulator, in respect of the revenue it is permitted to earn from South Australian consumers. The Australian Energy Regulator considers any jurisdictional service reliability standard set by the Commission when making regulatory (revenue) determinations for SA Power Networks.

The Commission establishes certain state-based customer service and reliability standards for SA Power Networks. Those standards are prescribed in the Commission’s Electricity Distribution Code. As a condition of its electricity distribution licence, issued by the Commission, SA Power Networks is required to comply with the service standards in the Code. 

Customer service

Under the Commission’s Service Standards Framework, SA Power Networks is required to report on average response times to customer enquiries and provide advice on certain matters within specified timeframes on an annual basis. Quarterly performance provides an indication of general performance in regard to the annual performance targets.

Guaranteed service levels

The Electricity Distribution Code provides for a Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) regime. Under this regime, if SA Power Networks does not meet a pre-determined standard of service, it triggers a payment to the affected customer(s). The GSLs relate to the timeliness of certain actions by SA Power Networks (e.g. repair of street lights that have gone out; restoration of electricity supply after an interruption).

Network reliability performance

The Commission monitors and reports on SA Power Networks’ reliability of supply performance, as measured by supply interruptions. The key interruption metrics used are duration of interruptions (System Average Interruption Duration Index, SAIDI); and frequency of interruptions (System Average Interruption Frequency Index, SAIFI). Network performance targets are set to reflect differences in the levels of interconnection and redundancy in SA Power Networks’ physical network across the state. From July 2015 SA Power Networks’ feeders are divided into four broad categories for the purposes of monitoring network reliability:

  • CBD
  • Urban
  • Short Rural
  • Long Rural

The Electricity Distribution Code specifies ‘best endeavours’ SAIDI and SAIFI targets for SA Power Networks that are ceilings, such that SA Power Networks’ actual performance should not exceed them. The ‘best endeavours’ element of the targets reflect the fact that, in cases where actual performance falls short of the target, SA Power Networks must satisfy the Commission that that it has used its best endeavours in its attempt to stay within the bounds of the target.

The Commission monitors and reports on SA Power Networks’ compliance with regulatory requirements and takes enforcement action in instances of non-compliance, if necessary.

Performance outcomes

Regulatory performance reports provide information on the performance outcomes of regulated providers of essential services in South Australia. This includes the network service/reliability performance of SA Power Networks. 

The Commission publishes information on SA Power Networks’ operational performance against the annual service standard targets and other indicators specified in the Electricity Distribution Code. 

SA Power Networks also reports on its performance are available on SA Power Networks website.


Performance summary for 2022-23


In 2022-23, SA Power Networks achieved both customer service standard targets for telephone and written responses and achieved 10 of the 16 reliability targets for the four feeder categories. Of the six reliability targets not met, one reporting threshold was exceeded, and one target has been exceeded four years in succession.

For the percentage of customers on Rural Short feeders experiencing interruptions greater than five hours, SA Power Networks exceeded the service standard target by 2.9 percentage points with a performance of 10.9 percent against the target of 8 percent and reporting threshold of 10.5 percent. The service standard target was based on SA Power Networks’ average historical performance over 10 years ending 30 June 2019. As SA Power Networks did not meet the above service standard target and exceeded the reporting threshold, the Commission recommends that SA Power Networks review its ongoing performance in this area.

For the frequency of interruption (USAIFIn) reliability standard for the CBD feeders, SA Power Networks has exceeded the target for four years in succession (target: 0.15, reporting threshold: 0.20, 2022-23: 0.18, 2021-22: 0.16, 2020-21: 0.17, 2019-20: 0.20). While it is noted that the reporting threshold has not been exceeded since its introduction 1 July 2020, and that SA Power Networks have taken steps to improve performance, CBD outages can affect a large number of people living and working in a small geographical area. Power outages in the CBD area have also increased economic impacts depending on the time of year. As a result, the Commission expects that SA Power Networks will continue to focus its efforts towards improving performance in this area with an aim to consistently meet the target set for this performance standard.

The Commission will consider trends in performance when it reviews SA Power Networks’ achievement against service standards in 2023-24.


Historical Performance Outcomes


Compliance reviews

While the Commission assesses energy entities performance against annual service standards and reliability standards each year, events may occur during the year that warrant special ad hoc reporting – referred to as Significant Performance Events.

The Commission considers the following criteria in determining whether a Significant Performance Event has occurred:
a significant number of customers are affected for a lengthy duration, or there is reason to believe that a significant number of customers may have been affected for a lengthy duration.
the event is likely to seriously impact on the licensed entity’s ability to meet one of more of its annual service standard(s) or reliability target(s).
the Commission needs to undertake a review to be confident that the licensed entity has complied with its obligations under the relevant industry Code(s).
there is strong stakeholder interest, or there is anticipated to be strong stakeholder interest.

The criteria recognise that a balance needs to be struck between reporting on every event and the resources it entails, and meeting stakeholder expectations on the provision of information in such situations.

The Commission has published the following significant event reports, in respect of the performance of SA Power Networks (formerly ETSA Utilities).

oREPORT: SA Power Networks - 27-28 December 2016 severe weather event
oREPORT: SA Power Networks' summer performance reports 2013 - 2016
oREPORT: Reliability performance in severe weather events 2010 
oREPORT: Inquiry into ETSA Utilities Network performance and customer response January 2006