Annual reports | Table of contents | Section A | Section C

Section B: Reporting required under any other act or regulation

Electricity Act 1996 and Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000

The Technical Regulator is a statutory office established by section 7 of the Electricity Act 1996 to regulate the state’s electricity infrastructure, electrical installations, electrical appliances and their operation. The safety requirements are defined through the development and monitoring of technical standards. The Technical Regulator is supported by the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) in conducting investigations, audits and other industry monitoring activities to ensure that the South Australian public continues to receive a reliable and safe electricity supply. Minimising electricity related shocks, fatalities and incidents remains the priority of the office.

Operations and activities from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 are summarised below.

Electrical safety programs and reported incidents

  • 1,215 electrical installations were audited for compliance with the Electricity Act 1996 and associated regulations. Audited installations were randomly selected from lists of new connections supplied by the distribution network service provider, SA Power Networks, and other network operators. Other installations were targeted for audits due to complaints or a history of non-compliance.
  • OTR officers assisted the South Australia Police with attendance at illegal cannabis growers’ premises where dangerous wiring, including meter bypasses, was suspected. Power was disconnected for installations deemed immediately dangerous until they could be rectified by a licensed electrician. A total of 18 expiation notices were issued to electrical contractors in relation to non-compliant work and six breaches of the Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995 were referred to Consumer and Business Services.
  • There were 20,700 enquiries for interpretations or technical advice in relation to the electrical installation standards, from industry stakeholders, government departments and members of the public.
  • No electricity related deaths were reported but 10 electricity related incidents involving injury or significant property damage were investigated. A total of 911 electric shock reports were made to the Technical Regulator.

Electrical appliances retail and online activity monitoring

The Technical Regulator monitors suppliers of electrical appliances and accessories for compliance with the Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000. A certification service assists industry to meet compliance obligations. A total of 91 applications for product approval were processed and 28 product related incidents were investigated. As a result, four voluntary recall notices were issued following negotiations with the suppliers

Safety Awareness and Education

The Technical Regulator continued to play a vital role in maintaining a good safety record within the electrical industry and in promoting public awareness:

  • Attended industry events to discuss safety and compliance issues with electrical contractors. A total of 91 presentations were delivered, covering legislation and AS/NZS 3000 Wiring Rules and related standards, the introduction of electronic certificates of compliance, changes to solar photovoltaic (PV) installation standards, and reports on accidents and fatalities. Safety and technical presentations were also delivered to apprentices, industry groups and government departments.
  • Attended home building expos and the Caravan and Camping Show to promote electrical safety, and answer queries from the public.
  • Conducted 18 presentations on the requirements for building structures and shared information about working safely near powerlines with building industry companies and local councils. OTR engineers frequently made site visits to ensure safety and regulatory compliance.
  • Continued the “Be Energy Safe” campaign, with advertisements in print and other media to support specific campaigns, warnings and recalls.
  • Provided safety brochures on request to local councils, electricity entities and the general public.
  • Published two editions of the Regulation Roundup, focussing on the Wiring Rules and other electrical standards, solar PV installations and safe working practices. Copies were posted to electrical workers and contractors registered in South Australia. The publication is also available online for general access.

Expert technical input

Expert technical input was provided for the revision of key Australian Standards through representation on 14 standards committees:

EL-001 Wiring Rules
EL-001-09 Wiring Rules Drafting Subcommittee
EL-001-17  Construction and Demolition Sites Installations
EL-001-21 Testing and Inspection of Electrical Installations
EL-001-24  Generating Sets
EL-002   Safety of Household and Similar Electrical Appliances and Small Power Transformers and Power Supplies
EL-004  Electrical Accessories
EL-042   Renewable Energy Power Supply Systems & Equipment
EL-042-03 Grid Connected Systems and Equipment
EL-042-05 Safety of battery systems for use in inverter energy systems
EL-044 Safe Working on Low-Voltage Electrical Installations
EL-052 Electrical Energy Networks, Construction and Operation
ET-007     Coordinating Committee on Power and Telecommunications (CCPT)
QR-012  Conformance Marking to Regulatory Requirements

The Technical Regulator’s Technical Advisory Committee met twice, including members representing energy entities, contractor and employee associations and local government.

The Technical Regulator is a member of the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council which addresses regulatory matters related to key technical and worker licensing issues facing the electrical industry and develops national strategies to address these issues in a consistent manner.

In line with the Memorandum of Understanding, technical advice was provided on many occasions to the Energy and Water Ombudsman SA on customer dissatisfaction with responses from electricity entities.

Building Clearance Approvals for Structures in Proximity to Powerlines

Under section 86 of the Electricity Act 1996, 18 approvals were granted and one was rejected for the erection of buildings in proximity to powerlines. As standard practice, applicants were assisted in achieving compliance with building clearance distances (as specified in the regulations) before the application was formally considered.

Exemptions to Planting Restrictions

The Electricity (Principles of Vegetation Clearance) Regulations 2010 list species of vegetation that may be planted in proximity to powerlines. Five exemptions were granted for non-listed vegetation.

SA Power Networks Vegetation Management Audit

SA Power Networks’ vegetation management was audited to ensure that the requirements of Part 5 of the Electricity Act 1996 were being met. OTR officers visited randomly selected and targeted locations to assess the contractor’s work. All pruning observed was found to be compliant.

Safety, Reliability, Maintenance and Technical Management Plans

A Safety, Reliability, Maintenance and Technical Management Plan (SRMTMP) is a licence condition for energy supply entities legislated through the Electricity Act 1996. Jointly administered by the Technical Regulator and the Essential Services Commission of South Australia, SRMTMPs must address matters prescribed in the regulations under the Electricity Act 1996. There were 43 electricity supply SRMTMPs in operation as at 30 June 2017. OTR officers visited Waterloo Wind Farm to verify that their systems were as described in their SRMTMP.

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Emergency Management Act 2004

Section 13: State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) must, on or before 30 September in each year, present a report to the Minister on the operations of SEMC during the preceding financial year.

The Emergency Management Council and State Emergency Management Committee:

  • Supported executive decision making by holding 15 Emergency Management Council meetings in 2016-17, including seven special meetings in response to emergency events.
  • Updated the Emergency Management Plan, which was approved by SEMC in December 2016 for implementation.
  • Supported the Premier and Cabinet to respond to the significant weather events of 2016 and the current terror threat environment.

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Gas Act 1997 and Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2000

The Technical Regulator is a statutory office established by section 7 of the Gas Act 1997 to regulate the state’s gas infrastructure (distribution systems) operation, gas installations (consumer premises), gas appliances and their operation. The safety requirements are defined through the development and monitoring of technical standards for the gas industry. The Technical Regulator is supported by the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) to conduct investigations, audits and other industry monitoring activities to ensure that the South Australian public continues to receive a reliable and safe gas supply.

Operations and activities for 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 are summarised below.

Gas installation and appliances – gas safety programs and reported incidents

  • All 8,663 new connections to the natural gas distribution system were subjected to a pre-connection safety check as agreed by the Technical Regulator. This endeavoured to ensure that the system was gas tight and that the gas installation and all appliances complied with the legislation in accordance with the applicable Australian Standards. Effectiveness of this system was verified by carrying out random audits.
  • OTR audited 95 industrial and commercial installations and 1,025 residential and light commercial installations.
  • A total of 69 warning letter/rectification orders were issued to contractors for non‑compliant installations and all were rectified by the responsible parties. Proactive audits were conducted on five caravan parks covering gas installations serving common amenities and individual installations for long term residents.
  • A total of 577 complaints relating to faulty or non-compliant gas installations or appliances were received and resolved. In addition, OTR responded to 8,135 requests for technical interpretation or advice in relation to the gas installation standards, from industry and trade stakeholders, government departments and members of the public.
  • No gas related deaths were reported during the year but six gas related incidents involving injury or significant property damage were investigated. The Technical Regulator also referred five cases to Consumer Business Services for licensing breaches under the Plumbers Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995.

Selling gas appliances; retailers and online activity

The program to audit and monitor gas appliance retailers with a view of eliminating the sale of uncertified gas appliances in South Australia targeted smaller retailers and supermarkets that are less likely to be aware of certification requirements for gas appliances. The objective was to increase community awareness and change the behaviours of sellers and buyers. A reduction in sales of uncertified appliances was achieved in the short term but long term monitoring will be required to confirm any positive changes in behaviour. In response to the Technical Regulator’s gas safety campaign and monitoring activities, there was also a general decrease in illegal online sales of appliances.

Safety of gas supply

Technical audits of Australian Gas Networks (AGN), Origin Energy LPG Ltd and Environmental Land Services (Aust.) Pty Ltd demonstrated that there were effective systems in place to manage to an acceptable level, any risks to the community arising from the operation of natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LP gas) distribution networks.

The amount of unaccounted for gas (UAFG) relating to the AGN natural gas distribution networks in South Australia has been confirmed to have decreased in 2016-17.

As part of its licence requirement and to ensure the safety of the community, AGN is required to have a Safety Reliability Maintenance and Technical Management Plan (SRMTMP). Within that plan, AGN has committed to a mains replacement program. The Technical Regulator can confirm that during 2016-17, AGN replaced approximately 192.4 kilometres (km) and decommissioned approximately 9.2 km of old cast iron, unprotected steel and high-density polyethylene gas mains as part of their ongoing mains replacement program. The overall progress however, was approximately 8.4 km below the AGN annual target.

The construction, commissioning and operations of LP gas distribution networks in several new developments in Mount Barker were confirmed to have been undertaken in accordance with the appropriate standards and gas industry practices.

Several annual audits of the gas distribution utilities were carried out, confirming that in all cases, utilities responded in a timely and appropriate manner to a gas leak reported by the public or by their own leakage surveys.

There were no deaths or personal injuries resulting from incidents on the gas distribution networks.

Industry communication and education

A total of 18 industry communication sessions with approximately 400 participants were held. These sessions were carried out in conjunction with the plumbing industry and covered gas safety and audit feedback. They were open to all licensed gas workers and contractors in South Australia. In addition, four presentations were organised and two regulatory newsletters for industry stakeholders were produced.

Public safety awareness and education

The public safety awareness campaign continued across print, radio, online and social media. Key messages included gas appliance safety, carbon monoxide awareness and the importance of using a licensed tradesperson for all gas installation work. Results from the annual consumer safety survey highlighted an increased awareness of gas safety, but this was not followed by a change in behaviour. As a result, the safety campaign will be slightly redesigned to improve its effectiveness in changing gas safety behaviour.

Reliability of gas supply and emergency management

The Technical Regulator continued to monitor the gas supply situation in the Iron Triangle and the effect of the April 2015 rupture to the pipeline feeding the area. The owner/operator (Epic Energy SA) has continued to work towards approval to resume flow at the “normal” pipeline capacity. By 30 June 2017, the pipe was running at 80% of its maximum allowable operating pressure.

The Technical Regulator also noted that the reliability of gas supply to both South Australia and Victoria has implications for South Australia’s electricity supply as both states were now heavily reliant on gas-fired power generation.

Australian Standards and regulatory committees

Expert technical advice was provided for the revision of key Australian Standards covering gas installations, gas appliance safety requirements, quality of servicing, various gas component standards, LP gas quality specification and gas distribution network management. The Technical Regulator continued to participate in industry, stakeholder and cross-jurisdiction boards, advisory groups and committees to ensure a reliable and safe gas supply and utilisation for all South Australians.

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Water Industry Act 2012

The Technical Regulator is a statutory office established by section 8 of the Water Industry Act 2012 (the Act) to regulate the state’s water and sewerage infrastructure and on-site plumbing, through the development, monitoring and regulation of technical standards about the water industry. The Technical Regulator is supported by the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) in administration of the Act and conducts investigations, audits and industry monitoring activities to ensure that the South Australian public continues to receive the safety and health benefits associated with a robust and reliable water industry.

The operations and administration activities for 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 are summarised below.

Water and sewerage infrastructure regulation

The Technical Regulator regulates water and sewerage infrastructure through engagement and consultation with the water industry and government agencies. During 2016-17 the key focus was on the review, approval and audit of Safety, Reliability, Maintenance and Technical Management Plans (SRMTMPs) from all water industry entities. A total of 38 SRMTMPs were approved and 22 audits were conducted of industry entities against their SRMTMPs.

Non-Drinking Water Guidelines

The Non-Drinking Water Guidelines for infrastructure and on-site plumbing were finalised. The guidelines outline the requirements and responsibilities for installing, operating and maintaining non-drinking water systems in accordance with legislation and technical standards.

Plumbing regulation

The Technical Regulator monitors and regulates on-site plumbing and equipment installations for compliance with the Plumbing Standard published under section 66 of the Act. To ascertain compliance, 7,720 technical and safety audits were completed of plumbing and equipment installations (including sanitary drainage systems, drinking and non-drinking water systems, fire services, heated water systems, and on-site wastewater systems).

Plumbers installing in-ground sanitary drainage pipework are required to provide OTR an as-constructed drawing showing the location of the pipework within the property. Plumbers and property owners can request copies of these drawings from OTR. To reduce red tape and support operational efficiencies for both industry and government, OTR completed a project in May 2017 to make available online approximately 1.5 million drawings. Drawings can now be accessed online 24 hours a day.

Standards, product certification and regulatory committees

Expert technical input and advice was provided on:

  • the on-going development of the Plumbing Code of Australia, Australian Standards (including the AS/NZS 3500 Plumbing and Drainage series) and International Standards.
  • product certification for the state’s plumbing industry.

The Technical Regulator contributed at a national level to the administration of the WaterMark Certification scheme and chaired the Water Industry Technical Advisory Committee as required under Section 15 of the Act.

Industry communication and consultation

Roadshows and presentations were held in metropolitan and regional locations to provide information on issues associated with the regulation of infrastructure and on-site plumbing installations, and on the amendments to the Plumbing Code of Australia and the AS/NZS 3500 Standard.

Combined technical reporting project

The Technical Regulator facilitated a 90-day project involving all state water industry regulators to improve transparency of the legislative technical reporting requirements for water industry entities. The outcome was the development of explanatory notes for each regulator, highlighting the legislative and practical reasons for data and information requests, how the data and information is used, and the resulting benefits to industry, customers and the environment.

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