A safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity supply is available to homes and business in remote South Australian towns through the Remote Area Energy Supply (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 — 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 — for example, Pipalyatjara is nearly 1600km from Adelaide.
From 1 April 2016, the South Australian government has contracted Cowell Electric Supply to support the RAES State and AC electricity assets and infrastructure. Their services include:
- managing power stations, generation sources and grounds
- maintaining distribution networks, as the RAES distribution network service provider
- meter reading
- 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:
- Manna Hill
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, also servicing Kalka (APY Lands)
- Murpatja, also servicing Kanpi and Nyapari (APY Lands)
- Yalata (ALT)
- Oak Valley (MT).
View RAES Aboriginal communities in a larger map
Electricity tariffs and charges
The South Australian government subsidises the cost of electricity for communities supplied under the RAES State and AC schemes. Tariffs are set based on the following 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. Tariffs in Cockburn and Coober Pedy are different from other communities because of the way their electricity is generated and sourced.
- 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.
View the RAES tariffs PDF, 61.98 KB
The RAES customer connection and supply contract PDF, 590.67 KB outlines the terms and conditions for the electricity supply to RAES State and AC customers. 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.
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.
Customer charter and forms for RAES sites
The Customer charter PDF, 624.88 KB 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.
Complete the Application for new connection/notice of alteration PDF, 191.9 KB 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 2.5 kW or more and require additional electricity supply.
Complete the Change of tenancy PDF, 156.1 KB form if you are moving out of or into a property.
Complete the Application for electricity supply form PDF, 237.31 KB if you are moving into a property and have not previously been a Cowell Electric Supply customer.
Complete the Disconnection request form PDF, 155.42 KB if a property is being demolished and electricity is no longer required.
Complete the Meter access form PDF, 158 KB if your electricity meter is not easily accessible for someone to read. If required, you can give Cowell Electric Supply a key that gives them access to the meter.
Stand-alone diesel and LPG generators supply electricity at most RAES sites.
At Parachilna and Coober Pedy, however, the power stations include hybrid power generation using renewable generation options, e.g. solar, wind or batteries. Diesel generation is only used when renewable generation is not available or not supplying enough electricity to meet demand.
Other RAES sites are being evaluated for the cost-effectiveness of implementing renewable energy solutions, e.g. solar or wind.
The Parachilna power station includes:
- 120 mono-crystalline panels, producing up to 21 kilowatts (kW) of electricity
- a 50 kVA bi-directional inverter connected to the diesel generator controls and battery array.
The solar array generates approximately 12% of the energy used at Parachilna and saves approximately 32 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
A renewable energy and battery storage plant in Coober Pedy includes:
- 1 megawatt (MW) of solar generation capacity
- 4MW of wind generation capacity
- 1MW/250 kWh of battery storage.
The plant was commissioned in mid-2017 and will provide a minimum of 70% renewable energy to the town over the 20-year life of the project
The 2019-20 Budget has provided $5.6 million over five years to implement a package of measures aimed at improving service delivery and realising operational efficiencies across the entire RAES scheme.
The 3-stage process to ensure the future sustainability of the RAES scheme incorporates:
- Installation of Smart Meters to improve energy efficiency and service delivery.
- The introduction of more flexible payment options, including the development of a customer pre-payment framework, to reduce the level of customer indebtedness.
- The staged introduction of electricity charging for residents in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, Oak Valley and Yalata.
The project will be rolled out over five years, with the installation of meters proposed for late 2019/early 2020 and the development of a pre-payment framework by mid-2020, followed by the staged introduction of electricity charging for residents in the APY lands, Oak Valley and Yalata over the remaining four years.
Smart metering will enable a range of flexible payment options to be considered, including pre‑payment, which will assist customers to manage their electricity bills and consumption. These will be developed in consultation with the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA), to ensure consistency with its regulatory and licencing requirements.
The Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the local communities in the APY Lands, Oak Valley and Yalata, will be consulted in the development of comprehensive community education programs. This will include the engagement of local Aboriginal community members to act as community project workers, to help ensure that local residents are able to implement strategies to manage their electricity consumption during the staged introduction of electricity charging.
Queries regarding the RAES budget measure can be directed to the Department for Energy and Mining’s Remote Area Energy Supply Team on 8226 5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cowell Electric Supply
General enquiries, fault and emergencies: 1800 805 020
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- The 2011 Review of the Remote Areas Energy Supply Scheme report PDF, 1634.63 KB identifies options for grid connection, energy efficiency opportunities and renewable energy.