The conversation so far

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Ensuring our customers are at the heart of our business starts with good engagement.

We are committed to working with customers and stakeholders to understand their needs and deliver services they value.

In the past 8-10 years, the way that South Australians source and share energy has been evolving. The adoption of new technologies, such as rooftop solar panels and batteries, is turning many customers into electricity generators and changing how they utilise our network.

The explosion of digitisation and self-service in other industries and the emergence of these new technologies is also driving changing customer expectations. Customers are demanding

Ensuring our customers are at the heart of our business starts with good engagement.

We are committed to working with customers and stakeholders to understand their needs and deliver services they value.

In the past 8-10 years, the way that South Australians source and share energy has been evolving. The adoption of new technologies, such as rooftop solar panels and batteries, is turning many customers into electricity generators and changing how they utilise our network.

The explosion of digitisation and self-service in other industries and the emergence of these new technologies is also driving changing customer expectations. Customers are demanding much more from the network than ever before. They want more and different services, such as the ability to export and trade their surplus energy, and these changing demands are placing significant pressure on the stability and reliability of the network.

At the same time there has been an increasing focus on the electricity prices driven in South Australia by rapidly rising retail and generation charges - not distribution charges.

Our engagement principles

Our key engagement principles include:

Designing our 2020-25 Regulator Proposal customer engagement program

Engagement with our customers and stakeholders occurs on a daily basis on a variety of topics and through a range of channels, including our comprehensive framework of reference groups and our Customer Consultative Panel (CCP).

Our 2020 Reset Customer Engagement Program began in February 2017. It has been designed as a progressive, phased program to provide multiple and diverse opportunities for dialogue and engagement.

Regular interactions with our Customer Consultative Panel and reference groups (which typically meet quarterly) underpin our program. The panel and reference groups were established in late 2016 and include more than 60 customers and consumer advocates from diverse occupations and interest areas including arborists, renewables, business, community, and electricity advisory.

The five key objectives of our engagement are to:

  • Ensure customers and stakeholders are well equipped to actively participate in the engagement
  • Engage customers and stakeholders on issues that matter to them
  • Ensure ‘no surprises’ for both SA Power Networks and our stakeholders throughout engagement process
  • Ensure that the concerns and views of our customers and stakeholders are considered in the prudent optimisation of our costs, services and prices
  • Ensure our engagement meets all relevant engagement principles (SAPN, AER + alignment with AA1000SES and IAP2)

Delivering our engagement

In 2017, our engagement was broad and we sought customer insights around three key themes that were identified in our preliminary customer research:

  • Network price
  • Network reliability and resilience
  • The network of the future

We considered the priorities emerging from this early engagement in our preliminary expenditure forecasting in late 2017. These preliminary forecasts have been based on keeping expenditures as low as possible. They were then used in early 2018 to engage with stakeholders through a series of deep dive workshops, where we explored the capital and operating expenditure forecasts that will be included in our Draft Plan.

Our comprehensive engagement program has provided rich, and at times diverse, feedback which we have sought to balance in our planning. Broadly, customers have told us they value three areas:

  • Keeping prices down
  • A safe and reliable network
  • Transitioning to a new energy future

Please click on the links below to learn more about our engagement activities:

  • SA Power Networks wins ENA Innovation Award for Advanced VPP Integration Trial

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    16 Oct 2020
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    A trial involving SA Power Networks and Tesla that has established a blueprint for integrating energy generated by customers on the national grid, has won a prestigious industry award.

    Energy Networks Australia has announced SA Power Networks as the winner of the 2020 Industry Innovation Award for its Advanced Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Grid Integration Trial.

    VPPs aggregate large numbers of customer batteries to operate in much the same way as a traditional power station. They are an emerging part of Australia's rapidly changing energy mix and as they scale up in size, orchestration of their interaction with the grid is essential, particularly as large and unco-ordinated surges in energy demand or exports from VPPs have real potential to create grid instability.

    In the trial, SA Power Networks worked with Tesla and other industry stakeholders, to design a suitable nationally-supported interface and communication framework, connection agreements and business rules to allow Tesla’s South Australian VPP and the network to share information and work together.

    The project enabled higher levels of energy exports to the grid from customer systems in the VPP through implementation of flexible, rather than fixed, export limits and it also provided Tesla the opportunity to provide important network support services such as frequency control.

    “Through application of this technology, the power output of Telsa’s proposed 50,000 battery VPP will be able to be doubled compared with traditional approaches to grid integration,” said Mark Vincent, Manager Strategy & Transformation at SA Power Networks.

    “It has the potential to increase its ultimate capacity to 500 MW – the same capacity as the now decommissioned coal-fired Port Augusta (Northern) Power Station – and supporting up to one third of typical South Australian electricity demand.”

    Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the project demonstrated SA Power Networks’ understanding of the immense change the energy sector was undergoing and the economic and social need to create smarter energy grids.

    “This is an important project not just for South Australia but for the nation as we work to integrate increasing amounts of distributed energy into the electricity system,” Mr Dillon said.

    “The learnings from this ambitious project will contribute to the development of smarter grids and better customer outcomes across the country.”

    Accepting the Award on behalf of SA Power Networks, Mr Vincent said: “Our next step is developing a flexible exports option for individual customers to maximise their export capacity as well as the groups of customers managed within VPPs. We are aiming to make this wider offering available to all solar customers in South Australia in 2022.

    “This delivers a step change in terms of integrating renewables with the grid and we anticipate the work we are doing is creating the blueprint for a national approach to integration of DER. Our approach has the support of the solar industry, equipment manufacturers, networks, system managers and policy makers,” Mr Vincent said.

  • Trial aims to help support more solar

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    15 Oct 2020
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    Solar customers in South Australia and Victoria will soon be able to feed more energy into the grid thanks to a new project announced today by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

    ARENA has announced $2.09 million in funding to a consortium led by SA Power Networks to trial a new approach to integrating rooftop solar with the grid, using smart inverters.

    Distributors SA Power Networks and Victorian-based AusNet Services have partnered with industry-leading inverter manufacturers, Fronius, SMA, and SolarEdge, and energy management software company SwitchDin to develop the technical capability needed to offer customers flexible rather than fixed export limits for solar.

    The $4.84 million project will develop and test end-to-end technical capability to enable flexible export limits for solar PV systems. The capability will be built into Australian products from market-leading inverter manufacturers and will be enabled in many other inverter brands through SwitchDin’s Droplet gateway device.

    Read the full media release here..

  • Doing it for the kids

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    16 Oct 2020
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    Outdoors Indoors recently featured a story on our Employee Foundation working with Backpacks 4 SA Kids INC.

    Backpacks for SA Kids provide colourful backpacks filled with essential items, toys and learning resources such as books, to children who are displaced or removed from their homes, often under difficult circumstances.

    Watch the segment and find out how the Employee Foundation and staff volunteers have been helping to improve warehouse facilities, refine processes, and support at risk children through hands-on, positive contributions.

  • Campaign reinforces safety around electricity

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    16 Oct 2020
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    Do you know how close is too close to a downed powerline? That’s just one question answered by SA Power Networks in a new electricity safety campaign underway as part its ongoing community safety program.

    The campaign is informed by detailed research conducted with South Australians, which revealed some significant gaps in their understanding of how to keep safe around powerlines.

    “In our research, we commissioned eight focus groups and quantitative research to explore what South Australians knew about electrical safety, particularly around shocks in the home, downed powerlines, traffic incidents involving our infrastructure, and safety on farms,” said Paul Roberts, Manager Corporate Affairs.

    “The research showed that while people thought they could use their common sense there was a big gap between what they thought they should do and what would keep them truly safe. For example, there was confusion about safe clearances from downed power lines (keep 10 metres clear) and people were unsure about what to do if they were in a vehicle accident involving Stobie poles and powerlines (stay in the car until help arrives).”

    Mr Roberts said many people also were not aware of the danger signals of tingles or shocks from taps in the home.

    “Our strategic advertising agency, Nation, has come up with a very simple and elegant campaign based on the research. It is focused on a question/answer format to inform the public about the most basic of safety issues. Based on the concept of ‘what you don’t know can kill you’, the campaign tagline is ‘you’ll be shocked by what you don’t know’. Campaign testing has helped confirm the effectiveness of the approach.

    “This is information that could save the unaware from electric shock or even electrocution.”

    The campaign is being rolled out through a mix of outdoor billboard and bus advertising; radio; ‘native’, social media and television and will be featured on Outdoors Indoors at 4.30pm on Sunday 18 October.

  • Report shocks and tingles

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    16 Oct 2020
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    Have you ever experienced a shock or tingling sensation while touching a kitchen, bathroom or garden tap?

    It could be a sign that the property’s electrical system has a damaged earth connection, causing issues in the electricity supply and resulting in metal objects such as pipes, taps and appliances to become live with very low-level electricity. Left unattended, it may become a serious issue.

    If you experience any issues you should:

    • Immediately let us know on 13 13 66, available 24/7
    • Don’t touch the appliance, or location again, until confirmed as safe

    A crew will attend to conduct a free inspection to identify if it is a problem with our network connection, something on the consumer side of the electrical installation, or nothing at all (eg static from carpet).

    To ensure ongoing safety, we may temporarily disconnect the power.

    Depending on the cause, we’ll either fix the issue, or let you know if you need to arrange your own electrician.

    The bottom line is simple; if you get any shocks or tingles at your property, don’t hesitate - give us a call straight away.

  • As seen on TV!

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    16 Oct 2020
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    Active Tree Services (ATS) provide vegetation management services for SA Power Networks. Did you know that ATS recycles 100% of the vegetation they trim? Recycling problem trees growing around powerlines are now helping some very tall animals over at Monarto Safari Park.

    Watch the Outdoors Indoors episode here.

  • SA Power Networks as a Relevant Agent

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    15 Oct 2020
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    This update follows Industry News - Embedded generation to be installed after 28 September 2020.


    From Monday 28 September 2020, SA Power Networks will be listed as a Relevant Agent for the following technologies:

    Inverters – The following internet connected inverter makes are compatible with SA Power Networks’ Relevant Agent service:

    • SMA
    • SolarEdge
    • Redback Technologies
    • Alpha ESS
    • GoodWe
    • Huawei

    Demand Response Enabling Devices (DRED) - DRED connected to the inverter’s Modbus or DRM interface enabling the inverter to be compliant with the new requirements. The following internet connected DREDs are compatible with SA Power Networks’ Relevant Agent service:

    • SwitchDin - Droplet
    • Mondo - Ubi
    • WattWatchers - Auditor 6M

    Refer to the DRED provider for a list of compatible inverters.

    Aggregation platforms – Aggregation platform providing fleet management of compatible internet connected inverters. The following aggregation platforms are compatible with SA Power Networks’ Relevant Agent service:

    • Greensync – internet connected GoodWe, Growatt, Sungrow inverters via the Greensync deX platform

    Refer to the aggregation provider for a list of compatible inverters.

    SCADA - Suitable for any electricity generating plants with an export capacity of more than 200kW connected to SA Power Network’s SCADA system.

    SA Power Networks will continue to support the industry with efficient pathways to meet the Smarter Homes requirements. We may add to our supported technologies over the coming weeks, please check the State Government website for the latest list of approved technologies SA Power Networks supports.

    What SA Power Networks offers as an Agent:

    • A simple way to appoint a Relevant Agent
    • This service at no cost to customers with supported technology
    • The capabilities and experience to manage solar PV curtailment

    How to nominate SA Power Networks as an Agent:

    • When completing the solar application form, select SA Power Networks as the Relevant Agent along with a supported technology
    • As part of installation, ensure the system is connected to the internet and the technology provider's online portal in accordance with the technology provider’s installation instructions
    • When completing the eCoC, select SA Power Networks as the Relevant Agent along with the supported technology

    More information:

  • An affordable, zero-carbon energy future

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    South Australia is on a mission to convert its electricity system into a 21ST Century platform that can support a net-100% renewable energy future by 2030.

    Already, about a third of the State’s customers are generating their own electricity on their home or business rooftops. Collectively, they can generate almost 1,500MW of power – equivalent to two to three major thermal power stations. Within one to two years, on mild spring days, there will be more than enough generation capacity available on roofs to power the entire State.

    “Renewable energy sources are paving the way for an affordable low carbon energy and transport system in South Australia,” said SA Power Networks’ General Manager Strategy & Transformation, Mark Vincent.

    “It is exciting to think that our individual investment in solar energy is helping make energy cheaper as well as better for the planet.”

    Mr Vincent said the electricity distribution network of substations, poles and wires was central to fully realising the benefits of the changes underway.

    “The measures we are undertaking at SA Power Networks create the potential for us to more than double the amount of renewable energy the electricity distribution network can accommodate over the next five years. And we are getting the network ready to accommodate the next step in the transition with energy being fed into it from home batteries and electric vehicles (EVs).

    “We aim to give more South Australians access to solar energy as well as significantly reduce the number of customers whose rooftop systems switch off in response to high voltages in parts of the distribution network,” Mr Vincent said.

    “We also want to be able to give customers the chance to be able to share the energy they generate, whether it is direct from panels in the middle of day or stored in a battery in their home or vehicle for later use.

    “The reality is these resources will not work for the benefit of customers and the community without the network. In fact, it is only by these resources and the network working together that we can maximise the benefits of cheaper energy and better environmental outcomes for everyone.”

    To get there requires a number of initiatives to be implemented – some across the national electricity market, and others in the most localised parts of the State’s electricity distribution network. These include:

    • Introduction in July 2020 of new residential Time-of-Use network tariffs. These ‘solar sponge’ tariffs provide cheaper daytime network charges to encourage use of more solar-generated energy during the middle of the day. Several retailers are now offering this option to their customers who have smart meters.
    • A prosumer tariff for customers who want to store and export energy into the grid.
    • Encouraging more controlled loads, such as water heating, to be shifted to the daytime to soak up extra (and cheaper) solar generation.
    • Investing in enhanced voltage management to reduce spring-time voltages for solar PV customers.
    • Developing national technical standards to support introduction of flexible export limits for rooftop solar which will be offered in constrained areas of the network and allow greater exports than traditional fixed export limits.
    • Trials with Virtual Power Plant operators who coordinate the operation of customers’ solar and battery systems to provide system and network support services, to ensure they can derive the greatest possible value for their customers, as well as the electricity system as a whole – driving down prices for all customers.

    “The pace of change is challenging but we are excited by this journey of transformation. We foresee a future where all Australians will have access to abundant, affordable and zero-carbon energy,” Mr Vincent concluded.

    (This article was recently published in the 2020 Spring edition of Smart Energy Magazine)

  • Rule change proposal aims to support even more solar

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    15 Jul 2020

    SA Power Networks has joined ACOSS, St Vincent de Paul and the Total Environment Centre in proposing AEMC consideration of a rule change to help support more solar and other ‘Distributed Energy Resources’ (DER) connect to electricity distribution networks.

    The issue needs addressing as many electricity networks are reaching their capacity to support DER and new investments are required to support additional DER take-up. We are proposing clearer rules on access to the network for solar and other DER customers and a pricing approach for that access.

    The various parties have submitted proposals for a rule change following a 10 month consultation with over 120 stakeholders, across three workshops, undertaken by TEC and ACOSS and six other partners (AEMC, AER, ARENA, Energy Consumers Australia, Energy Networks Australia, and Public Interest Advocacy Centre) via the DEIP Access and Pricing Work program.

    Most parties involved agree that a rule change is necessary, but any changes approved by the AEMC should provide customers with significant notice. If approved, they would not be implemented in South Australia until 2025 at the earliest. SA Power Networks is proposing a rule change that would ensure:

    • Customers have the right to be able to export energy to the grid from rooftop solar and other DER;
    • Networks invest efficiently to support the continued take-up of solar PV; and
    • Costs to support solar PV are fairly allocated between customers and in a way that is revenue neutral for distribution networks.

    Some key points:

    • We are passionate about supporting South Australia’s exciting energy transition and have a significant role to play in helping SA achieve net-100% renewable energy supply
    • This proposal does not increase network revenue (which is approved in a separate process by the Australian Energy Regulator) – it is about how we allocate tariffs to collect that approved revenue from customers for the services they use.
    • The reason we believe this needs to be actioned is because networks are reaching the limits of their capacity to support solar/DER and without investment, at some stage new DER customers will no longer be able to connect, or will have their export capacity severely limited.
    • The rule change if approved would be unlikely to take effect until after 2025 in SA and initially only apply to new customers or those upgrading their equipment
    • We are talking about a minimal charge of ‘tens of dollars’ per annum, with any $ gained from tariffs for exports balanced by a reduction in $ for consumption tariffs
    • The intent is for solar customers to contribute toward the cost of supporting their connection but also recognising the positive benefits they also bring
    • There will be significant consultation by the AEMC in finalising a position and any consequent rule change.

    You can click here to see our media statement, our Frequently Asked Questions and our rule change submission. More information is also available at the AEMC website.

  • Appointment of General Manager Customer and Community

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    15 Jul 2020
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    We are pleased to announce that Jess Vonthethoff has been appointed to the position of General Manager Customer and Community. Jess will officially take over the role on Monday 4 May 2020.

    Over the past three years Jess has led the customer and stakeholder engagement process for the 2020-25 Regulatory Reset submission. This has involved broad based customer surveys, focus groups and multiple consultative workshops held across South Australia and interstate on topics such as innovative tariff design and South Australia’s world leading integration of renewables into the electricity grid.

    Jess has a passion for improving outcomes for customers and leading a true customer-focused culture.

    "I have had the privilege of speaking to many customers and stakeholders about what is important to them and I am excited about the opportunity to deepen our understanding of customer priorities in my new role as General Manager, Customer and Community. Our customer journey is continuing to evolve and I am committed to ensuring our organisation delivers outcomes that are in the long term interests of consumers" said Jess.

    Jess has been with SA Power Networks for 11 years, most recently as Manager Stakeholder Engagement and Communications and has over 20 years’ experience in communications, community engagement and stakeholder management. Jess is a member of the Energy Networks Australia national committee on Consumer Engagement and Communications, and also represents SA Power Networks on a number of broader stakeholder forums, including those representing vulnerable customers.