SA residents to get $20m blackout payout

Rick Goodman

South Australians hit by blackouts in the wake of storms in December will receive around $20 million in compensation from the state's electricity operator.

SA Power Networks says the total payments will be around three times more than the company has ever paid for a major storm, with the previous high of $7 million coming in February 2014.

About 155,000 customers will receive payments for the inconvenience caused by the extended power outages, which started when fierce weather tore down power lines across SA in late December.

The payouts start at $100 for customers blacked out for more than 12 hours and climb to $605 for those who were without power for more than 48 hours.

SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts said the estimated $20 million in guaranteed service level payments will go to about half of all customers who lost power.

"This clearly demonstrates the significant nature of the storm, the widespread damage and the number of customers affected," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Our preliminary figures also show that this single storm event is the worst we have had in terms of minutes of supply lost."

The Adelaide Hills was the worst-hit area as repair crews were slowed by difficult terrain and access issues, while the mid-north was also badly hit.

In the initial aftermath of the storm, Premier Jay Weatherill said the damage wrought by strong winds could not have been prevented.

But Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said it was the fourth major blackout in SA for the year and that the state government should have been more prepared.

The December blackouts capped off a turbulent year for SA's power system, with storms in September causing a statewide outage that sparked debate nationwide.