New technology and a fresh approach to designing and building the electricity network is enabling Western Power to provide customers with better power reliability and prevent the need to build and maintain costly lines.
Power reliability is an ongoing concern for remote towns serviced by long stretches of powerlines, which are at the mercy of wind, rain, vegetation and lightning.
These long powerlines – many that stretch several kilometres to service a single property – served a purpose when they were built decades ago, but this is no longer the case.
Hundreds of kilometres of these costly poles and wires are coming up for renewal.
Enter stand-alone power systems.
In the Great Southern towns of Ravensthorpe, Lake King, West Lake and Ongerup, we gave six households a system as part of a year-long trial.
Each system included solar panels, a battery, an inverter (to convert DC to AC) and a backup diesel generator.
In addition to day-to-day use, the battery had enough storage to provide two days’ supply of electricity.
If the sun doesn’t come out for more than two days, the backup generator kicks in to provide power.
12 months in: Stand-alone power systems prove a winner
After the first 12 months, the trial has been a major success. The results speak for themselves:
2 years in: SPS continues to improve power reliability
The second year of the trial continues to show great signs of success:
We have identified more than 15,000 sites in our network where customers could benefit from stand-alone power systems over the next decade, greatly improving their power reliability and preventing the need to upgrade millions of dollars’ worth of poles and wires – saving the State money.
While current regulations prevent us from rolling out these systems to more customers, we have extended the current trial for a further three years while we work with regulators to amend the rules to enable better energy solutions for our customers. We have also launched a second project which will deploy up to 60 stand-alone power systems in varying geographical locations.
The initial trial has successfully demonstrated that supplying stand-alone power systems to remote locations can be a more cost-efficient way of supplying electricity compared to maintaining expensive network infrastructure.
And most importantly, customers love the improved power reliability.
“It’s more reliable. We haven’t had to worry about getting the generator going.” – Ros, West River.
During local floods in February 2017, the stand-alone power systems continued to supply uninterrupted power, while other areas experienced outages due to damage on the network.