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New legislation boon for customer choice and WA businesses

The passing of the Electricity Industry Amendment Bill 2019 by State Parliament today is a significant milestone for Western Power in providing regional customers with new energy solutions, as well as certainty for WA’s energy businesses.

Western Power Stand-alone Power Systems Manager Margot Hammond said the regulatory reforms would - for the first-time - enable the business to use stand-alone power systems (SPS) and storage devices as part of the South West Interconnected System.

“The use of SPS is an exciting and innovative approach to energy supply that uses renewable energy to address reliability challenges experienced by our regional and remote customers,” she said.

“It is part of our drive to deliver effective alternative energy solutions for customers while providing a more reliable and economical alternative to replacing poles and wires in many low population density rural areas. 

“Power reliability and quality is an ongoing concern for regional community members serviced by long stretches of power lines, which are at the mercy of wind, rain, vegetation, lightning and bushfires. The frequency and duration of outages for customers in remote locations is significantly higher than their urban neighbours.

“Our first SPS trial in 2016 exceeded expectations by significantly improving power reliability and quality for customers. It also had the added benefits of increased renewable energy with more than 90 per cent of electricity generated from the sun during the trial.”

Ms Hammond said that at present more than 50 per cent of the overhead distribution network currently serviced less than three per cent of customers.

“Our modelling shows that we can install thousands of SPS units over the next 30 years, avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in replacing poles and wires.”

Following the success of Western Power’s initial trial in the Great Southern region, it is now installing 57 SPS in the Midwest, Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions for customers with a further 100 being installed in 2021.

Ms Hammond said WA small businesses looked set to benefit with a large number of SPS manufactured, fabricated and installed by WA companies. Hybrid Systems Australia is currently manufacturing and installing a large number of the 57 SPS being rolled out this year and have increased their workforce significantly as a result.

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Bondallin SPS