The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has started proceedings in the Federal Court against the subsidiaries of four companies that operate windfarms in South Australia for alleged breach of the National Electricity Rules (NER) during a black-out in 2016.

Proceedings have been filed against the subsidiaries of AGL Energy, Neoen, Pacific Hydro and Tilt Renewables over the alleged compliance issues that took place during the black-out.

The black-out took place on 28 September 2016 due to harsh weather conditions, damaging South Australian power transmission lines as well as leading to a loss of wind power generation.

As a result of the black-out, around 850,000 customers and businesses in South Australia lost power.

AER chair Paula Conboy said: “The AER has brought these proceedings to send a strong signal to all energy businesses about the importance of compliance with performance standards to promote system security and reliability.

“These alleged failures contributed to the black system event and meant that AEMO was not fully informed when responding to system-wide failure in South Australia in September 2016.

“Providing timely and accurate information to AEMO is critical in ensuring power system security and the effective operation of the wholesale energy markets.”

The regulatory authority also alleges that the windfarm operators did not ensure that their power plants and related facilities are in line with the generator performance standards.

AER also alleged that the windfarm operators failed to install automatic protection systems that ensure seamless power supply even during an adverse event.

In its filing, AER is seeking declarations, penalties, compliance programme orders and costs.