The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has let down Australian consumers by forcing power companies to make massive cuts to electricity maintenance and network upgrades. $1 billion per year has been cut from maintenance since 2012 and because the AER lets energy retailers make mega profits, consumers are still paying the same amount for electricity.
Unless this shortfall is fixed, electricity assets will likely fail into the future – leading to more network downtime, outages, bushfires and longer periods to recover after severe weather events.
Despite ripping out $1 billion a year from maintenance, the number of corporate managers employed at power companies has grown by a staggering 36% but the number of actual electrical workers who service the infrastructure has gone down by 1.4%.
Immediate changes need to be made to fix how the AER works and ensure proper maintenance is being carried out on all our electricity assets.
Properly funded electrical maintenance benefits everyone – consumers, families, communities, the power companies and electrical workers.
The time it takes to rebuild after natural weather events such as storms and cyclones is longer than ever before – because unmaintained poles and wires are destroyed easily and need to be replaced completely.
For example, in recent storms in South Australia and Melbourne, some communities were left without power for more than a week. Fixing the AER will mean households (and businesses) won’t be put out for days and weeks on end during severe weather events.
Ageing poles and power lines are a serious fire risk. Faulty power lines caused 5 of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires which led to 173 deaths. By fixing how the AER works, preventative maintenance can be scheduled before problems develop and fire risks increase.
An ageing network also puts workers safety at risk because electrical workers are asked to perform their duties on unsafe and failing devices. This increases the risk of something going wrong which could lead to serious injury or death.
The number of managers and sales / marketing professionals working in transmission and distribution companies went up by 36% from 2006 – 2016.
The number of actual electrical workers in the same time shrunk by 1.4%. This fact shows why the system needs to be fixed. Instead of investing in corporate jobs, power companies should be employing more electrical workers to do the much needed maintenance.
By investing in preventative maintenance and network upgrades, our electricity assets can be better prepared for the consequences of climate change including more frequent and severe weather events and making sure renewable energy systems can connect to the grid and export their power.