Incidents that occur in the electricity supply industry can provide valuable insight into vulnerable points in the electricity supply chain that may impact on the level of reliability, security and quality of supply of electricity to consumers. Significant incidents or recurrent smaller incidents may highlight such matters as poor maintenance procedures, inadequate services and facilities or inadequate processes and procedures. It is important that electricity entities adequately respond to these incidents through investigation, reporting, and elimination or control of the underlying causes.
The Regulator's objectives under the Electricity Supply Industry Act 1995 include the establishment and enforcement of proper standards of safety, security, reliability and quality in the electricity supply industry; and the protection of the interests of consumers.The Regulator has published an Incident Reporting Guideline for the Tasmanian Electricity Supply Industry. The Guideline details incident reporting requirements, with the level of investigation and reporting dependent on the impact of the incident on customers.
Where incidents are significant, the Guideline requires a comprehensive investigation to be undertaken such that causes are determined and recommendations made to address any identified issues. These are detailed in a report to the Regulator. The Regulator monitors progress in the implementation of recommendations.
Incident reports are also an input to entities' planning processes and operating procedures and a valuable source of information for the Regulator's Network Reliability Review. The Regulator publishes information regarding significant incidents through Summary Reports of Incidents published on the Regulator's website and the Regulator's Energy in Tasmania Performance Report.
The Regulator's incident reporting framework complements AEMO reports of incidents affecting the Tasmanian power system, prepared by AEMO under the National Electricity Rules.
Changes to the Incident Reporting Guideline
Since the publication of the first version of the Guideline in 2005 most of the regulatory responsibility for the Tasmanian electricity supply industry has been transferred to the Australian Energy Regulator and AEMO.
Furthermore, the Regulator is no longer contacted by the media or members of the public and expected to provide details about outages and power interruptions with TasNetworks now providing up-to-date information on power interruptions.
However, under Chapters 8 and 12 of the Tasmanian Electricity Code the Distribution Network Service Provider continues to have an obligation to report to the Regulator with respect to the operation of the mainland Tasmanian Distribution network. In addition, the Regulator’s obligations under the ESI Act remain unchanged as does AEMO’s and the Regulator’s respective roles with respect to incident reporting.
While there may no longer a requirement to notify the Regulator of minor incidents, or for the Regulator to be notified immediately of incidents, to meet its statutory obligations, the Regulator needs to be advised:
- if a major incident has occurred;
- the impact of the incident; and
- that appropriate measures have been put in place to prevent its re-occurrence.
The Regulator sought feedback on draft revisions to the Guideline to reflect these changes with consultation closing on 26 April 2019. A submission was received from TasNetworks. TasNetworks' submission can be found here.