In 2016, six regional families signed up to receive their energy in a new way, harnessing technology not previously used on our network.
The trial of stand-alone power systems (SPS) in the Great Southern region was designed to improve these customers’ power reliability and be a better value alternative than rebuilding the aging poles and wires in the region.
The solar-battery-diesel systems exceeded expectations, providing excellent customer satisfaction and significantly improved power reliability. The SPS trial established a demonstrable blueprint for improving regional power supplies using renewable electricity systems and saving money on network infrastructure.
But could it be done at scale? Round 1 of our stand-alone power system project offers a true alternative for regional customers who – for too long – have been at the mercy of wind, storms and other environmental factors that have caused frequent or extended power outages.
Powering up in regional Western Australia
Our Great Southern stand-alone power system trial was limited to six properties in the Great Southern region.
SPS Round 1 will supersize the rollout, with the inclusion of SPS units across 57 sites in regional WA.
By deploying systems in multiple geographical locations over a three-year period, we will better understand how they operate under varying regional environmental conditions.
Participants come from a more varied energy consumption background, allowing us to deploy a more diverse set of SPS configurations and sizes. Properties are located throughout our network area from Mullewa in the north, to Cranbrook in the south and Bodallin in the east.
57 locations have been identified as meeting the criteria to be a SPS Round 1 participant. These locations are serviced by 227 kilometres of overhead powerlines. That’s four kilometres of powerline per property – all of which needs to be replaced at significant cost in the coming years.
WA-based renewable energy companies Hybrid Systems Pty Ltd and BayWA r.e. Solar Systems Pty Ltd have been contracted to deliver 56 of the SPS units, with Victorian company Optimal Group to install a specialist solution for a Water Corporation site.
We expect the systems to be installed from mid-2019.
The success of our first SPS trial has resulted in strong interest by regional families and businesses who would love to have their own system. For the purposes of this trial, we have identified the potential participants based on; where single or clusters of customers are sitting on long, aging spur lines which are due for replacement; and their annual energy consumption patterns.
So while you cannot nominate yourself for a SPS right now, if SPS Round 1 further demonstrates the effectiveness of these systems - and at larger scale – then we may see these systems as a standard part of our service offering in the future.
What is a spur line?
An overhead powerline that branches off a rural feeder and supplies power to a small number of customers, often over long distances.