Understanding electricity power outages
The electricity distribution network that carries electricity to around 850,000 customers is operated and maintained by SA Power Networks (SAPN), which is a privately owned company.
If there is a blackout/power failure, SAPN is usually responsible for responding to the issue and restoring the electricity supply.
Is your power out?
The state government is not responsible for the distribution network. You can search for current outages, or report an outage in your area, on the SAPN website.
Power outage updates and safety
You can register for SA Power Networks’ free messaging service, Power@MyPlace, to receive information about power outages via SMS or email.
SA Power Networks also has tips for what to do when the power goes out to help you prepare for an outage and keep you safe.
Power outages often happen in summer due to higher demand on the electricity network. If you live in a bushfire risk area, your electricity supply may be interrupted due to a fault or fire, or SA Power Networks may turn off the power in your area to prevent a fire starting. See Summer power interruptions and staying safe in heatwaves for more information.
If the power is only out at your home, it may be an electrical fault. Check your safety switch is still in the ‘on’ position. If it is off and won’t stay switched on, contact a licensed electrician to investigate the cause of the problem.
If you or someone in your home uses life-supporting equipment that needs a reliable power supply, speak with your medical practitioner to set up an emergency plan for when the power goes out.
When SA Power Networks needs to maintain or upgrade the electricity network, they may need to interrupt the power supply. Affected customers will be notified by mail, newspaper or radio prior to a planned power interruption.
A list of scheduled power outages is available on the SA Power Networks website.
Manual load shedding
If South Australia’s electricity demand is greater than the available electricity supply, or a fault occurs in the electrical system, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) can instruct ElectraNet and SA Power Networks to switch off the electricity supply to groups of customers for a short amount of time, to reduce pressure on the electricity network. This is ‘manual load shedding’ and only happens when there is an urgent need to protect the electricity network by reducing demand and rebalancing the system.
The state government-owned emergency electricity generator will be switched on to try to cover the electricity supply shortfall before SA Power Networks does any manual load shedding. Visit the Our Energy Plan website for information about the emergency generators.
If the emergency generation does not cover the amount of load AEMO has directed SA Power Networks to shed, the additional load will be shed according to the manual load shedding list , which identifies electricity ‘feeders’ and the areas they supply. When load shedding happens, feeders are switched off in the order of the list (starting from the group that was last switched off) to reduce demand on the electricity network and help keep it secure. Rotating through the list spreads outages as equitably as possible across the community.
Manual load shedding outages normally last 30-45 minutes, to minimise the risk to people’s health and safety, and are listed under the current power interruptions information on the SA Power Networks website.
If your power is off for substantially longer than 45 minutes, it is most likely due to a local power failure. Check the SA Power Networks website for more information.
Electrical circuits are excluded from the rotational load shedding list if they supply electricity to critical infrastructure such as major hospitals, emergency response centres, critical electricity network components, major sewage processing plants, prisons, or other organisations where it would cause a significant risk to public safety if power was suddenly lost.
This manual load shedding list is developed by the Office of the Technical Regulator, in consultation with SA Power Networks and ElectraNet.
Compensation and claims for power outages
When power outages happen more often or are longer than anticipated, SA Power Networks may give customers a guaranteed service level (GSL) payment in recognition of the inconvenience caused. You don’t have to register or submit a claim with SA Power Networks. If you are eligible for a payment, they will post you a cheque.
If the interruption due to a loss of transmission supply, which is ElectraNet’s responsibility, you will not receive a GSL payment. ElectraNet is not required to compensate customers for failure to supply electricity.
If you suffer damages or loss from an incident associated with the SA Power Networks distribution network, you may be able to claim compensation. No compensation is available for any loss or damage that occurs due to events outside SA Power Networks’ control, such as storms, falling trees, or motor vehicle accidents. Compensation claims are limited to incidents caused by SA Power Networks negligence or bad faith.
Your household or business insurance policy may cover losses due to power outages. Contact your insurer for advice and to process a claim.
If you want to make a claim for recovery of damages resulting from a loss of electricity supply and it is not covered by SA Power Networks’ small claims system or by your own insurer, you will need to go to court. The Magistrates Court deals with civil matters (minor claims), while the District Court deals with claims more than $100,000.
What to do if powerlines or poles have fallen
If you discover broken powerlines or fallen poles:
- maintain a safe distance, as the powerlines may still be live
- report it to SA Power Networks on 13 13 66.
Find out more about powerline safety.
On this site
- Dealing with problems and making complaints
- Using licensed tradespeople
- Using generators for back-up power
- SA's electricity supply and market
- South Australia's energy plan
- Power outage and emergencies fact sheets - SA Power Networks
- Understanding the electricity industry in SA infographic - SA Power Networks