A safe and reliable electricity supply is available to homes and business in remote South Australian towns through the Remote Areas Energy Supplies (RAES) scheme.
Electricity is supplied to remote towns through the RAES State/Independent scheme, and to remote Aboriginal communities of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY), Yalata on Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) and Oak Valley on Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) through the RAES Aboriginal Communities (AC) scheme.
The RAES State and AC service area covers approximately 210,000 square kilometres (which is roughly equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom) and experiences extreme weather conditions, which can affect the supply network. Many communities are also geographically remote – Pipalyatjara is nearly 1600km from Adelaide, for example.
From 1 April 2016, the South Australian government has contracted Cowell Electric Supply to manage the RAES State and AC electricity networks. Cowell Electric Supply will maintain and operate the power stations and electricity distribution networks, and provide meter readings and retail services.
Cowell Electric Supply holds the RAES State and AC generation, distribution and retail licenses issued by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA).
RAES State/Independent communities
Around 2,400 customers in 13 remote towns are provided with more than 15 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually.
The South Australian government owns the electricity infrastructure that supplies 10 remote towns:
Independent owner-operators supply electricity to customers in:
- Coober Pedy
View RAES State/independent communities in a larger map
Each independent owner-operator holds generation, distribution and retail licenses issued by ESCOSA. The state government subsidises costs for independent operators to make service delivery viable.
RAES Aboriginal Communities
Around 1,000 customers and consumers are provided with more than 14 million kWh of electricity annually.
In the APY Lands, the Central Power House (located at Umuwa) is the primary electricity generation facility. It has a 33 kilovolt (kV) central distribution system that runs approximately 110km west to Amata, 70km north east to Pukatja and Yunyarinyi and 170km south east to Kaltjiti (Fregon), Mimili and Iwantja (Indulkana).
In the APY Lands, electricity is supplied by the Central Power House to:
- Iwantja (Indulkana)
- Kaltjiti (Fregon)
- Pukatja (Ernabella)
- homelands connected to the Central Power House grid, including Yunyarinyi and Watinuma.
Power stations are also located within the following communities:
- Pipalyatjara, servicing Kalka (APY Lands)
- Yalata (ALT)
- Oak Valley (MT).
Electricity is also supplied to Murputja (servicing Kanpi and Nyapari homelands), which is separate from the Central Power House grid and managed for the Commonwealth Government.
View RAES Aboriginal communities in a larger map
Electricity tariffs and charges
The South Australian government subsidises electricity tariffs for communities supplied under the RAES State and AC schemes. Tariffs are set based on the follow principles:
- domestic customer tariffs are based on the average domestic standing offers by electricity retailers supplying to the South Australian on-grid market
- general supply customer tariffs are based on the average small business standing offers by electricity retailers supplying to the South Australian on-grid market.
- state and federal government customers pay the full cost of their electricity supply and consumption
- all customers pay a fixed supply charge, which is aligned with on-grid supply charge.
Tariffs in Cockburn and Coober Pedy are different from other communities because of the way their electricity is generated and sourced.
The RAES customer connection and supply contract outlines the terms and conditions for the electricity supply to RAES State and AC customers.
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Similar to on-grid customers, charges may apply for extra services, such as arranging a new connection or requesting final meter readings.
New applications to connect to the RAES electrical infrastructure may attract a generation levy, depending on the connection capacity in kilovolt amp (kVA) being requested.
The generation levy reflects the cost of providing additional infrastructure to supply the electricity. The calculation is:
- Generation levy = $1,500 (excluding GST) x each kVA of connection exceeding 10 kVA.
There is one 10kVA allowance per applicant (agency) per community per calendar year.
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Public lighting charges
Electricity used for public lighting in RAES communities is charged to the relevant council or community group. Some community groups that are not part of Aboriginal Lands may be eligible to receive a subsidy for public lighting through the Outback Communities Authority.
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Customer charter and forms for RAES sites
The Customer charter outlines what you can expect as a RAES customer. It is based on the conditions of supply that have been approved by ESCOSA as a requirement of the retail licence conditions.
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Complete the Application for new connection/notice of alteration if you are constructing a new building that requires electricity connection for the first time, or are installing additional electrical appliances or equipment with capacity of 2.5kW or more and require additional electricity supply.
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Complete the Change of tenancy form if you are moving out of or into a property.
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Complete the Application for electricity supply form if you are moving into a property and have not previously been a Cowell Electric Supply customer.
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Complete the Disconnection request form if a property is being demolished and electricity is no longer required.
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Renewable energy – Parachilna power station
Stand-alone diesel and LPG generators supply electricity at most RAES sites. At Parachilna, however, the power station includes solar/diesel hybrid power generation. The system automatically switches to diesel generation when solar generation is not available or not supplying enough electricity to meet demand.
The Parachilna power station is located 400 metres from the northern town boundary and includes:
- 120 mono-crystalline panels, each producing up to 175W of electricity
- a 50 kVA bi-directional inverter connected to the diesel generator controls and battery array.
The inverter control system can be monitored from Adelaide and provides detailed information about the electricity being generated and distributed in Parachilna.
The solar array generates approximately 12% of the energy used at Parachilna and saves approximately 32 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Other RAES sites are being evaluated for the cost effectiveness of implementing renewable energy solutions, eg solar or wind.
Cowell Electric Supply (from 1 April 2016)
General enquiries, fault and emergencies: 1800 805 020
Phone: 08 8226 5500
Department of State Development,
Energy Markets and Programs – RAES
GPO Box 320
Adelaide SA 5001
Find out how to save energy in your home – Energy Advisory Service
Download the 2011 Review of the Remote Areas Energy Supply Scheme report that identifies options for grid connection, energy efficiency opportunities and renewable energy.
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