ETSA Utilities has begun an early summer preparation program to enhance supply reliability for its 782,000 customers as South Australia moves into an early bushfire alert.

In expectation of a hot summer ahead, the $160 million program that was announced in April this year has already been increased by a further $26 million of commitment to assist with specific summer preparation programs such as the vital summer aerial patrolling.

ETSA Utilities' CEO Lew Owens said that summer always had the power distribution company on high alert as it organized additional available crews and work programs to best manage the issues created by extended periods of high temperatures and bushfires.

"This makes summer a critical period for ETSA Utilities," said Owens. "For us, it is about minimizing the risk of supply interruptions and maximizing our abilities to tackle effectively any potential issues before they arise."

Owens said that ETSA Utilities worked closely with the Bureau of Meteorology, SAPOL and the MFS. "It is this level of communication and mutual support that allows us all to achieve the best results in each situation," he said.

Some summer preparation initiatives include:

  • Replacement of more than 160 street transformers across the metropolitan and regional areas of SA, with 70 additional transformers to be replaced early in 2008
  • Increased standby fleet of mobile generators and transformers
  • $10 million substation upgrade at Golden Grove
  • $2.7 million to improve supply to Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula
  • $4.5 million Goolwa substation upgrade for more than 3000 residents
  • Completion of the vegetation clearance program in bushfire risk areas
  • Early completion of the annual aerial and ground patrolling in November
  • $10 million 66kV line from Morphett Vale East to Port Noarlunga, benefiting more than 50,000 southern suburbs' residents

Owens said that despite the high level of commitment to summer readiness by ETSA Utilities it would be premature to expect a summer without power interruptions.

"There will always be situations that are outside of our control - such as extreme weather," he said. "However South Australians can be assured that our forward planning and financial commitment put us in the best position to deal with any eventuality.

"What we promise South Australia is that we are doing everything in our power to ensure the reliability of the power supply during summer."