SA Premier introduces emergency energy legislation

New legislation introduced this week will give the South Australian government more control of the state’s energy network.

The Emergency Management (Electricity Supply Emergencies) Amendment Bill 2017 was passed in parliament yesterday, as part of the government’s $550 million energy plan.

Premier Jay Weatherill told the parliament the new legislation was a matter of urgency.

“The National Electricity Market is broken. It’s a private market for private companies that puts profits before people,” Mr Weatherill said.

“We’re taking back control and putting South Australians first.

“Under these new laws, we would have the power to step in and direct available generation on within minutes.”

In February, 90,000 South Australians lost power in a heatwave due to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ordering load-shedding.

“The events of February 8 told us everything we need to know about this broken market,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Faced with the choice of switching off power to homes or switching on a generator, the market chose to blackout tens of thousands of homes.”

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis will now have the power to direct electricity generators to turn on when required.

The Minister will also be able to direct AEMO to control flow on the interconnector to Victoria.

“For the first time since the previous Liberal Government sold ETSA, South Australians are going to have control over their energy supply,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Electricity is an essential service and it isn’t good enough for privately-owned companies or AEMO to turn off customers rather than turn on available generation.

“The market won’t be able to make that mistake again.”

The State Government has suspended standing orders to introduce the legislation in the House of Assembly, where it is expected the laws will progress this week.

Once the legislation has passed both houses, pending the support of the Liberal Party or crossbenchers, the government will enact the laws as soon as possible.