Power issues put to Premier

PREMIER Jay Weatherill has warned Eyre Peninsula against establishing its own mini-grid away from the rest of state, telling local mayors it would carry more risk than remaining on the main grid.

Eight Eyre Peninsula mayors also discussed the communication failure, the cost to the region and the urgent need to secure the region’s power supply with the Premier via a teleconference last Thursday.

Port Lincoln City Council mayor Bruce Green said it was good to present the region’s issues but it was a “general discussion” rather than solutions based. 

He said the Premier warned against the option for Eyre Peninsula to operate from its own mini-grid.

“He cautioned us against isolating ourselves as it was higher risk than staying on the main grid,” Mr Green said.

“The Premier did recognise there are a specific set of issues we have that are not shared with the rest of South Australia and that he would investigate establishing an electricity taskforce for the EP.” 

Mr Green said there was discussion about compensating businesses for their losses or to assist with generators but the Premier was “non-committal”. 

Tumby Bay District Council mayor Sam Telfer said he “strongly urged” Mr Weatherill to put together a task force to investigate the power supply issues specific to Eyre Peninsula and address the unreliability of power and the ongoing maintenance of aging infrastructure.

He said it was disappointing Member for Flinders Peter Treloar was not invited given the work he was doing to help find out why the back-up generators failed and secure the region’s power supply. 

“We will have to work together if we’re going to find a solution but I think all the mayors were able to strongly put the issues of the region to the Premier,” he said.

Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council mayor Julie Low said the loss of communication and the cost of mitigation were important to consider.

“Communication was a big one for us, we had no phone or internet but also now the council and other businesses have to look at putting systems in place so they can operate if it happens again,” she said.

“We don’t have confidence in supply.”

She said the cost of power to businesses in terms of future investment was also discussed. 

“Businesses are going somewhere else or not investing here and that’s hurting everybody.”