The Power System Controller (currently a stand-alone business unit within Power and Water Corporation) is the entity licensed by the Commission to manage the day-to-day operation of the power system. 

While the Commission is responsible for the economic regulation of the Northern Territory electricity market, the function of monitoring and controlling the power system lays with the Power System Controller, with broad oversight by the Commission.

Section 38 of the Electricity Reform Act sets out the powers and functions of the System Controller. Customer contestability and bilateral contracting require the Power System Controller to:

  • monitor the output of third-party generators and the demand of those generators’ customers at half-hourly intervals or less; and
  • call up agreed standby generation (‘standby power’) as required.

The Power System Controller is entitled to impose and recover charges relating to the operations of system control. The schedule of charges to be applied must be approved by the Commission. The current System Control charge is 0.10 cents per kWh, which is recovered as a postage stamp amount applied to all network users in the regulated network.

At the commencement of the current regulatory regime on 1 April 2000, determinations and approvals for the interim period 1 April to 30 June 2000 were made for the Darwin and Katherine networks only. From 1 July 2000, the Commission expanded coverage to include the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek networks. Due to an administrative oversight, the approval instrument for system control charges was not amended to reflect this expanded coverage. An amended approval instrument for system control charges has been published to correct this error.

The Power System Controller also administers the System Control Technical Code. For more information, see System and Market Operation. 

Pricing of Ancillary Services

Regulation 3 of the Utilities Commission Regulations grants the Commission authority to determine prices relating to the provision of ancillary services in the electricity supply industry.

In October 2003, the Commission began preparatory work to review the ancillary services arrangements and the role of system control in the Territory’s electricity supply industry. Power and Water Corporation, as the holder of the system control licence in the regulated power systems, provided an 'ancillary services arrangement' for the Commission’s consideration and approval in November 2004.

Further development for the pricing for ancillary services has been deferred until the prospect of generation competition re-emerges in the Territory.

Energy Loss Factors Compliance Review

In June 2003, the Commission decided to undertake a review of Power and Water Corporation's compliance with Schedule 13 of the Network Access Code. This followed concerns raised by NT Power regarding the energy loss factors applying while it operated in the Territory's contestable market. Given the technical nature of many of the issues, the Commission engaged technical advisers for the purpose of this review.

The Commission has now released its final findings. A summary of the key findings can be found below. However, due to the commercial-in-confidence nature of information provided, full findings will remain confidential to the parties concerned.

For more information on Energy Loss Factors, see Electricity Networks (Third Party Access) Act in Legislation.