Is your power out?
The electricity distribution network that carries electricity to around 850,000 customers is operated and maintained by SA Power Networks (SAPN), which is a privately owned company.
You can search for current outages, or report an outage in your area, on the SAPN power outages webpage.
If there is a blackout or power failure, SAPN is usually responsible for responding to the issue and restoring the electricity supply.
The state government is not responsible for the distribution network.
You can register for SAPN’s free messaging service, to receive information about power outages via SMS or email.
SAPN also has tips for what to do when the power goes out to help you prepare for an outage and keep you safe.
Power outages often happen in summer due to higher demand on the electricity network. If you live in a bushfire risk area, your electricity supply may be interrupted due to a fault or fire, or SAPN may turn off the power in your area to prevent a fire starting. See bushfire safety and severe weather safety for more information.
If the power is only out at your home, it may be an electrical fault. Check your safety switch is still in the ‘on’ position. If it is off and won’t stay switched on, contact a licensed electrician to investigate the cause of the problem.
If you or someone in your home uses life-supporting equipment that needs a reliable power supply, speak with your medical practitioner to set up an emergency plan for when the power goes out.
When SAPN needs to maintain or upgrade the electricity network, they may need to interrupt the power supply. Affected customers will be notified by mail, newspaper or radio prior to a planned power interruption.
A list of scheduled power outages is available on the SAPN website.
On rare occasions, the amount of electricity being generated can exceed the grid's demand. While this sounds positive, too much can have a damaging effect on the network. In these scenarios, electricity demand is purposely increased to ensure sufficient generation units stay online to provide network security services such as system strength, inertia and frequency control.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) can instruct ElectraNet and SA Power Networks to switch off distributed energy resources, such as customer household rooftop solar systems, for a short amount of time, to keep the electricity network secure.
This is ‘manual generation shedding’ and only happens when there is an urgent need to protect the electricity network.
Customers have been required from 28 September 2020 to ensure any new solar system they install has the technical capability to be remotely disconnected and reconnected to help manage risks to the electricity system during times of emergency. The new standards only apply to a customer's existing solar system if any declared part of the existing system (for example the inverter) is being replaced (excluding warranty repairs).
Manual generation shedding outages are rare and would only be expected to last for a short period of time, normally 30 to 45 minutes, to minimise the risk to people’s health and safety. These outages are listed under the current power interruptions information on the SA Power Networks website.
If your generator is off for substantially longer, is switching off or reducing output more regularly, this may indicate that your distributed solar PV is responding to changes in system voltage. Customers should contact their solar installer or an electrician to investigate this issue.
If South Australia’s electricity demand is greater than the available electricity supply, or a fault occurs in the electrical system, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) can instruct ElectraNet and SA Power Networks to switch off the electricity supply to groups of customers for a short amount of time, to reduce pressure on the electricity network. This is ‘manual load shedding’ and only happens when there is an urgent need to protect the electricity network by reducing demand and rebalancing the system.
AEMO monitors the energy market to ensure there is sufficient supply to meet demand in South Australia including reserves to ensure that supply can be maintained if a large generator is unexpectedly unable to operate.
If AEMO cannot secure sufficient supply it may direct SA Power Networks to shed load according to the manual load shedding list (PDF, 336.9 KB), which identifies electricity ‘feeders’ and the areas they supply. When load shedding happens, feeders are switched off in the order of the list (starting from the group that was last switched off) to reduce demand on the electricity network and help keep it secure. Rotating through the list spreads outages as equitably as possible across the community.
Manual load shedding outages normally last 30-45 minutes, to minimise the risk to people’s health and safety, and are listed under the current power interruptions information on the SA Power Networks website.
If your power is off for substantially longer than 45 minutes, it is most likely due to a local power failure. Check the SA Power Networks website for more information.
Electrical circuits are excluded from the rotational load shedding list if they supply electricity to critical infrastructure such as major hospitals, emergency response centres, critical electricity network components, major sewage processing plants, prisons, or other organisations where it would cause a significant risk to public safety if power was suddenly lost.
This manual load shedding list is developed by the Office of the Technical Regulator, in consultation with SA Power Networks and ElectraNet.
When power outages happen more often or are longer than anticipated, SA Power Networks may give customers a guaranteed service level (GSL) payment in recognition of the inconvenience caused. You don’t have to register or submit a claim with SA Power Networks. If you are eligible for a payment, they will post you a cheque.
If the interruption is due to a loss of transmission supply, which is ElectraNet’s responsibility, you will not receive a GSL payment. ElectraNet is not required to compensate customers for failure to supply electricity.
If you suffer damages or loss from an incident associated with the SA Power Networks distribution network, you may be able to claim compensation. No compensation is available for any loss or damage that occurs due to events outside SA Power Networks’ control, such as storms, falling trees, or motor vehicle accidents. Compensation claims are limited to incidents caused by SA Power Networks negligence or bad faith.
Your household or business insurance policy may cover losses due to power outages. Contact your insurer for advice and to process a claim.
If you want to make a claim for recovery of damages resulting from a loss of electricity supply and it is not covered by SA Power Networks’ small claims system or by your own insurer, you will need to go to court. The Magistrates Court deals with civil matters (minor claims), while the District Court deals with claims more than $100,000.
If you find broken powerlines or fallen poles:
- maintain a safe distance, as the powerlines may still be live
- report it to SA Power Networks on 13 13 66.
Find out more about powerline safety.