Blackout payback questioned
Tens of thousands of Adelaide householders and businesses will miss out on compensation payments for last year’s blackouts.
SA Power Networks has told some 30,000 claimants they are ineligible for compensation due to a “force majeure”, or unforeseen circumstances clause.
About 65,000 customers will share in a total compensation payout of $19 million.
SA Power Networks spokesperson Paul Roberts said only those who experienced over 12 hours of continuous blackout were eligible.
But that period does not include times where repair crews could not operate due to bad weather.
“We had up to nine hours of time where our crews could not work safely and we're talking about real risk of life and injury,” he said.
“Our crews couldn't work in very high winds that persisted for a number of hours and in a sense it would be a double, a second penalty to penalise us for times when we couldn't work.”
SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA) to force SA Power Networks to go case-by-case and explain why it is not compensating each one.
“Most blackouts occur during storms, most blackouts occur during weather events,” he said.
“To then claim a force majeure event on the basis of not being able to get to the lines, not being able to get [out] to restore power, quite frankly, is unfair on South Australians.
“I have spoken to ESCOSA and asked them to raise this matter with the Australian Energy Regulator, and I will be seeking an explanation from SAPN as to how a force majeure can apply in so many instances.”