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South Australia's energy mix includes the use of both renewable and non-renewable sources to generate electricity. The generated power is sold through a single market managed by AEMO (Australia Electricity Market Operator), where it can be bought from retailers or delivered straight to your house.
The electricity from the eastern states is transmitted to South Australia by a series of power lines. The Murray link (Riverland) and Heywood (Limestone Coast), two interconnectors that link Victoria with New South Wales, import this energy for use in their region when demand is at its highest as is the case in the summer or winter.
Electricity Generation in South Australia
There are two primary sources of energy in South Australia: renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Let’s look at them briefly.
Non-renewable energy sources
Natural gas-fired generation is the primary non-renewable source of energy generated in South Australia. 60% of all natural gas produced within this state gets used for electricity production.
Diesel-fired power stations are a small but significant source of electricity in the state. They operate mainly during peak demand periods and serve remote communities with no access to an alternate supply, such as off-grid homes or campsites that exist far from any major energy sources.
Renewable energy sources
In South Australia, renewable energy sources include solar power generated through rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind.
A large battery at the Hornsdale wind farm is able to provide a stable power supply for South Australia's electricity network. When one turbine or all fossil fuel-based plants go down, this backup system can provide emergency power when there are outages across a number of areas. The installation features two Tesla Powerpacks that can supply enough energy to power over half a million homes.
Generating electricity from rooftop solar panels is becoming more popular in South Australia. More than 200,000 households have installed this technology, and are generating power for their homes. Excess power is channelled to the main grid.
The Clean Energy Council provides an interactive map on its website, which shows the location of all power plants currently operating in South Australia and what’s planned for future development, including where new technologies such as solar panels will be used most effectively.
Electricity Transmission in South Australia
After generating electricity, the next phase is transmitting it to the power distribution company. This process is called power transmission.
In South Australia, high-voltage transmission networks and towers are managed by ElectraNet. First, electricity is transmitted over long distances through 132kV or 275KV wires to bulk supply substations, where it is stepped down before it is sent out through smaller lines to homes across the state.
Further adjustments are made for homes or businesses using power around the clock. SA Power Networks is responsible for managing powerlines and distribution stations in Southern Australia. They also own the electricity meters in this region.
How is Electricity Sold to SA Businesses and Households?
The way electricity is distributed in Australia can be a bit complicated. Retailers buy wholesale energy from the National Electricity Market and sell it to customers, to whom they transfer transmission/distribution bills for costs incurred by companies that facilitate this all-important process of moving electrons around.
You have rights and responsibilities to help protect you in your dealings with energy retailers, distributors. You can choose an electricity retailer that is best suited for what's needed from them and compare prices across all suppliers using Energy Made Easy price comparison service.
How is Your Electricity Bill Calculated in South Australia?
Four items determine your electricity tariff (the amount you are asked to pay for each Kilowatt of electricity you use per hour) and the supply charge you pay the retailer to supply you home with electricity. They are:
• Wholesale Cost: When a retailer purchases electricity from NEM (National Electricity Market), they pay for their production costs. The price is usually determined through contracts between energy generators and distributors.
• Network Cost: Network cost covers the cost of transmitting and distributing electricity. They form the largest bulk of your electricity dues. As a retailer, you pay the network service providers (SA Power Networks and ElectraNet) to supply and maintain the infrastructures that support the electricity network, including power poles and wires that take electricity down to your property.
How much of the network cost that the retailer will charge you is determined every five years by the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian government agency responsible for regulating wholesale and retail energy market and networks.
• Retail Cost: Retail cost is the cost associated with the retailer running their business. It comprises things like the cost of managing accounts, the cost of connecting customers, and the cost of billing customers. These costs are not static but vary from businesses to businesses and are therefore determined by individual companies.
• Green Cost: In Australia, the costs of green power are passed on to you by retailers. These costs include state-based energy efficiency and solar feed-in schemes and the Australian government's Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET requires that 20% of electricity generated from sources like wind or hydro be sourced from renewables by 2020.
South Australian Energy Regulators
Electricity in South Australia is a government-regulated industry, and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) sets network charges. They monitor compliance with national energy legislation by market participants such as SA power suppliers or retailers who sell electricity to people.
AER protects consumers from being overcharged when they're not using any appliances while also ensuring businesses get fair rates from their competitors through standard access agreements.
What are the Electricity Tariffs and Charges in South Australia?
Ask any South Australian bill payer, and they will confirm that the electricity prices in South Australia are highly attractive. Thanks to their simple electricity tariffs, there is a bit more transparency than other states, which makes shopping around easier and can save money on your bill.
Electricity tariffs is simply the way you are charged for using electricity. It is possible to charge you the same way for all usage, or you may be charged a different rate depending on the power you consume. To better understand tariffs let’s briefly look at two concepts; supply charges and usage charges.
Supply charges are the daily fixed cost that you pay for remaining connected to the electricity grid. South Australian residents pay between $0.09 to $1.15 a day for supply charges. On the other hand, usage charges reflect the electricity you consume. In South Australia, you pay between 26c to 35c for every kWh of electricity used. On average, a sizeable Australian household uses about 18kwh every day.
There are four types of electricity tariffs that households in Australia can purchase, they are:
Single rate tariff
One of the most common types of electricity rates is called single-price, flat fee, or ‘anytime’ plan. This type offers customers an amount for their usage, that will change depending on how much energy they use in any given period.
It is the most preferred among South Australian residential users and has other names such as "single rate, "domestic peak,” or simply "Peak". On this plan, typically, when prices go up, they do so slowly over time.
Demand tariffs are new. They are designed to reflect better the clients’ needs and the impact their energy usage may have on networks. Essentially, customers pay a low flat rate for electricity usage plus supply charges with an additional daily “demand charge,” reflecting their peak home energy consumption within 30 minutes during high-peak hours.
Controlled load tariff
A controlled load tariff is an electricity pricing plan where large appliances such as hot water systems and slab heaters are metered separately. Customers can save by using this rate for high-usage items, while standard single rates apply to all other types used in your house or business establishment. Controlled load tariffs offer lower charges than general per-unit prices.
Feed-in tariffs are a revolutionary way to make money off your solar panels and help the planet simultaneously. Feed-in tariffs, or FiTs for short, best describes this new program.
When you have an unused million volts worth of electricity generated from your sustainable sources like roofs made out of metal channels on buildings that collect sunlight all day long, it will automatically feed into someone else’s energy grid without any additional cost.
What are the Best SA Electricity Providers?
According to a survey on South Australian energy consumers conducted by Canstar Blue, the following are the best energy providers in SA. They are AGL, Alinta Energy, Lumo Energy, Simply Energy, EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy.
According to the survey, there is a clear difference in customer satisfaction between the biggest providers and some smaller challengers. This year saw EnergyAustralia score five stars for overall satisfaction while also being top when it comes to easy sign-up questions along with excellent customer service qualities that are common across all Australian power companies.
Is the Cost of Electricity in SA Very High?
South Australia is the land of expensive power bills. The high electricity prices in this state are due to increased generating, transmitting, and distributing energy costs across Southern Australia. They're passed on by companies who sell you your kWh at retail rates.
The debate over how much South Australian households should be paying their providers has been raging. South Australia also relies on renewable energy especially during peak hours when demand is at maximum.
Manage Your Power Consumption in South Australia
Managing energy consumption is a big challenge to many homes and businesses in South Australia and Adelaide in particular due to the relatively high cost of electricity. One way you can reduce your energy consumption is by hiring an excellent SA electrician to audit your energy expenses. They will advise you on the right energy efficient equipment to buy; they will also help you choose a tariff plan that best suits you. All these can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars per annum.