The Office of the Technical Regulator is responsible for SA’s electrical, gas and plumbing safety and technical regulation.
The position of the Technical Regulator is established under the following Acts:
- Electricity Act 1996
- Gas Act 1997
- Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000
- Water Industry Act 2012
The Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) assists the Technical Regulator in the administration of these Acts. Its primary objectives are ensuring the safety of workers, consumers and property as well as compliance with legislation and applicable technical standards in the electricity, gas and water industries.
The functions of the OTR include monitoring and enforcing compliance of electricity and gas appliances with safety and technical standards as well as labelling of appliances for safety and energy efficiency.
Promoting, auditing and enforcing the compliance of electricity, gas and water installations with safety and technical standards is an important function of the OTR.
The OTR also administers certificates of compliance requirements to ensure that electrical, gas fitting and plumbing workers and contractors comply with legislated requirements relating to work that they have carried out.
The Technical Regulator is responsible for monitoring the compliance of electricity, gas and water infrastructure with relevant technical standards and other requirements to ensure safety and maintenance of supply. These responsibilities include:
- electricity generation, transmission and distribution
- gas distribution
- water infrastructure.
Electricity entity auditing
The OTR conducts safety and technical audits of electricity entities operating in South Australia. The audits cover selected safety and technical areas in the operation of the entities.
Every electricity entity operating in South Australia is audited over a two or three year cycle. Details of audits carried out by the OTR and are published in the OTR's electricity annual reports.
The OTR has established guidelines for conducting safety and technical audits. The guidelines are generally based on Australian standards for auditing quality systems.
Functions under the Electricity Act 1996
The principal functions of the Technical Regulator under the Electricity Act 1996 are:
- monitoring and regulation of safety and technical standards in the electricity supply industry
- monitoring and regulation of safety and technical standards relating to electrical installations
- administration of the provisions of the Act relating to clearance of vegetation from powerlines
- monitoring and investigation of major interruptions to the electricity supply
- fulfilling any other function assigned to the Technical Regulator under the Act.
Functions under the Gas Act 1997
The main functions of the Technical Regulator under the Gas Act 1997 are:
- monitoring and regulation of safety and technical standards in the gas supply industry
- monitoring and regulation of safety and technical standards relating to gas installations
- providing advice in relation to safety or technical standards in the gas supply industry to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) at its request
- fulfilling any other function assigned to the Technical Regulator under the Act.
Functions under the Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000
Under the Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000, the Technical Regulator is responsible for the safety and energy efficiency labelling of energy products (including specified electrical and gas products).
It is also responsible for the registration of specified electrical and gas products for minimum energy performance standards (MEPS).
Under this Act, the Technical Regulator has the authority to monitor and audit showrooms to ensure the application of relevant safety and energy efficiency labelling on products that are displayed for sale. The Technical Regulator has the authority to prohibit the sale or use of unsafe energy products.
Functions under the Water Industry Act 2012
The main functions of the Technical Regulator under the Water Industry Act 2012 are:
- development of technical standards in connection with the water industry
- monitoring and regulating technical standards with respect to water and sewerage installations and associated equipment, products and materials (including on the customer's side of any connection point) and plumbing
- providing advice in relation to safety or technical standards in the water industry to ESCOSA at its request, and in the plumbing industry
- fulfilling any further function assigned to the Technical Regulator under the Act.
A copy of the Technical Regulator's annual report is presented to both houses of the Parliament by the Minister.
- 2016–17 Annual Report, Section B, Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Please note that in 2014-15, the annual report for plumbing was combined with the annual report for water and sewerage.
Representation on committees
The OTR is represented on a number of national and Trans-Tasman standards and advisory committees, which are listed in the annual reports. This is to ensure that the views of the office are considered in the developments of new codes and standards as well as in the development or administration of functions relevant to its responsibilities.
Electrical Technical Advisory Committee
The Electrical Technical Advisory Committee is established under the Electricity Act 1996. The committee comprises representatives of licensed electricity entities, electrical contractor and employee associations, local government and the OTR.
The function of the committee is to advise the Technical Regulator on any matters relating to the Technical Regulator's functions. The members of the committee are listed in the Technical Regulator's annual report each year.
Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council
The Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) is a Trans-Tasman council established to promote uniformity and consistency in the regulation of the electricity industry within Australia and in New Zealand. ERAC has representatives from all Australian states and territories and New Zealand and meets twice a year to address key safety, technical and regulatory issues of the electricity industry.
ERAC addresses regulatory matters related to technical and worker licensing issues and aims to develop national strategies to consistently address the challenges facing the industry.
ERAC meetings are convened in five sessions, each meeting chaired separately. They cover general matters, electrical installations and inspection, electrical equipment safety, licensing and supply.
ERAC is a forum for resolving technical, safety and worker licensing issues of national significance. Working groups, established by the chairman of a session, develop strategies to resolve issues on behalf of the council and advise the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER) of the issues to ensure that ministers and senior officials are aware of the issues and develop strategies to resolve them.
The OTR participates in a number of working groups to ensure that South Australian issues are addressed in a national level.
Energy Planning and Regulators Coordination Group
The Energy Planning and Regulators Coordination Group is established under an agreement involving the OTR, ESCOSA and the Executive General Manager of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
Although the regulators and AEMO have specific roles within the electricity industry, the coordination group can address the need for a cooperative approach in gathering and exchanging of information and providing mutual support in conducting investigations.
The coordination group is established to ensure that the three offices involved are aware of activities that can affect their functions. Mutual awareness of these offices leads to an overall improvement in the efficiency and consistency of electricity regulations in South Australia.
Standards and Codes Committee
The regulations under the Electricity Act 1996 and the Gas Act 1997, and regulations and proclamation under the Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000 refer to a number of standards. When referred to by legislation, the standards become part of the legal framework.
The Water Industry Act 2012 enables the Technical Regulator to publish standards, which may apply, adopt or incorporate codes, standards (including Australian Standards) or other documents. Compliance is required with standards referred to by or under legislation.
The standards also prescribe best practice methods and tests that may form bases for legal defence in the prosecution of electrical, gas fitting or plumbing workers and contractors. Although other tests are also available, the standards provide more solid bases as they are outcomes of accepted development processes reviewed by a range of stakeholders.
The standards are under continuous review. The OTR maintains a close and important involvement in the review processes as it is to regulate the industry according to the outcome of the reviews and the results of the application of the standards.
Electricity standards, codes and amendments
A list of developments, reviews and publications of electrical standards involving the OTR is listed in the Technical Regulator's annual reports.
Due to the large number of Australian and New Zealand standards, representation in their review and development is shared between all Australian and New Zealand regulators and industry. This is to minimise cost and ensure that the standards are practical, commercially equitable and suitable for regulatory purposes.
Gas Technical Advisory Committee
The Gas Technical Advisory Committee is established under the Gas Act 1997. The committee comprises representatives from licensed gas companies, gas contractor and employee associations involved in the gas supply industry, local government and the OTR.
The committee is established to provide advice to the Technical Regulator on any matters relating to the Technical Regulator's functions.
Gas Technical Regulators Committee
The Gas Technical Regulators Committee (GTRC) is a forum comprising all Australian and New Zealand gas safety regulators where national and Trans-Tasman gas safety issues are discussed twice a year.
The committee is mainly responsible for advising the SCER on issues related to gas safety.
Issues addressed by the committee include a range of topics such as:
- the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement
- gas quality standards for natural gas and LPG
- gas appliance certification schemes
- standards for gas appliances, components and infrastructure
- standards for gas installation work
- safety issues relating to unsafe appliances, installations and infrastructure
- regulatory practices.