Thursday 22 August 2013

Hansard of the Legislative Council




Mr Finch (Question) - My question is to the honourable leader.

(1) Is the government aware of concerns about the reliability of power supply in view of widespread disruptions in the north on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, including in my electorate, where some consumers were without electricity for 20 hours or more?

(2) Under existing arrangements, power consumers are financially compensated for outages depending on duration and where they live. Will this arrangement be changed by the privatisation of parts of Aurora's operations?

Mr FARRELL - Mr President, I thank the honourable member for Rosevears for his question. Aurora Energy is committed to ensuring the safe supply of electricity to Tasmanian homes and businesses with minimal interruption. While Aurora aims to keep customers connected at all times, interruptions to supply are often unavoidable and Aurora cannot therefore promise 100 per cent reliability at all times. Aurora's supply reliability performance is set and overseen by the independent Tasmanian energy regulator and has improved in the 2012-13 financial year. In 2012-13, Aurora customers experienced 1.68 power interruptions on average, down from 1.88 recorded in the prior year. On average, each Aurora customer experienced 172 minutes without electricity in the 2012-13 period, down from 205 minutes in the 2011-12 period.

Aurora also guarantees its level of service. If Aurora does not achieve this guaranteed service level, it will forward a payment to affected customers. If interruptions to a customer's current electrical installation exceed the limit set for a duration or frequency under Aurora's guarantee, it will send affected customers a minimum of $80 or up to a maximum payment of $160.

Aurora Energy's supply reliability performance is set and overseen by the independent Tasmanian economic regulator. The guaranteed service level scheme requires Aurora to make payments to customers who experience interruptions to their supply on a rolling 12-monthly basis which exceeds set limits for duration or frequency. Aurora must comply with the regulator's guaranteed service level scheme guideline, which was effective from July 2012. The Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator ensures that Aurora meets its obligations under the scheme.

The guaranteed service level scheme effectively applies to the distribution part of Aurora's business, meaning that its operation is not expected to be impacted by the privatisation of the retail customer base. Under the guideline, in its capacity as the electricity distributor to which the scheme applies, Aurora is able to make guaranteed service level payments to customers via any retailer under an agreement between those parties.