On Wednesday 27 March, Consumers SA Executive Committee members Brian and Elaine Attwood attended a meeting called by SA Power Networks (SAPN) to discuss how their reference groups had performed over the last two reset periods and what their future would be.  Membership of the various groups comes to an end in March/April this year. 

Brian and Elaine report:

”SAPN made it clear that they wanted to retain the services of the groups but was keen to know whether the groups felt they had been useful, and what they had got out of the consultations. It was a two way process.  To that end SAPN had earlier in the week held an internal meeting to answer the same questions themselves. Regardless of whether the groups were successful or not, the AER now demands that entities like SAPN must consult with consumers and put them at the centre of their business. It was how that might be done that SAPN were seeking input.

We were asked a series of questions such as to why we had become involved, why we wanted to continue to be involved , what our organisation(s)  got from being on the various groups and what we provided to the groups as well as how we saw our role, and whether we thought we had been listened to in SAPN's decisions.

Melanie Lambert was the facilitator and we had a group of 4-5 at each table. SAPN work to the Customer Engagement Guidelines for Network Service Providers issued by the AER in November 2013.  Also to the IAP2 guidelines for consultation. 

The meeting was a working one and at the conclusion it was pleasing to see that the Draft Guideline Principles that SAPN's internal workshop came up with were very similar to those that the present meeting felt was important.   In other words the key engagement was broadly representative of the SAPN customer base. 

There was a large number of people present, representing SAPN’s various groups. They also offered a revised structure for consideration of how the groups (now 8) would sit under the Customer Consultative Panel. This will need more discussion later.

SAPN submitted their 2020-25 Regulatory Business Proposal on 31 January 2019. The AER now has an issues paper out (28 March). There will be a public forum in Adelaide on 4 April followed by the AER draft proposal on 30 September.

Engagement on this revised proposal will  be sought during October and November 2019 and the AER’s final determination will come down on 30 April 2020.

SAPN wants consumers to use the ’time of use’ tariff to help manage the solar trough. There will be a changing role for the distribution network up to 2030.   One in 3 customers now have solar and potentially there could be 100,000 batteries in use within the next 2-3 years.  The network has to change from a one-way flow to a two-way flow.

There should be a $37-40 reduction in residential power bills and between $111-114 for small business in 2020-21.”

AuthorRay Dennis