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Frequently Asked Questions

Find out the answers to some of the Pilot's frequently asked questions below.

What the Flexibility Services Pilot (100MW Challenge) is all about

The Flexibility Services Pilot is a program led by Western Power and supported by partnerships with businesses in WA. It is part of our drive to transform and future-proof the south-west grid for the West Australian community by using emerging technologies and connecting an increasing mix of renewable energy.

The Pilot will be delivered through a flexibility services program, where energy users and generators of solar PV on the distribution network voluntarily change their energy use to support the network in return for payment by Western Power.

The Pilot will run for one year initially, with participants most likely asked to manage their energy flexibility during the months of October and March, when energy consumption is generally lower than what is being produced otherwise called low-load.

Following the initial one-year Pilot, we’ll review the results to determine the next steps.

System-low events, also known as low-load events, occur when the power being generated across the network is more than what is being used.

These events are more likely to occur on mild sunny days when solar generation is high yet heating and cooling may be unnecessary.

If the supply of solar generation is higher than the demand for energy, it creates a system-low, where the power required from large-scale generators drops below their minimum operating limits, which can cause outages. If commercial and industrial businesses can be flexible with their energy during these periods, they can help reduce excess power on the grid. This enables large-scale generators to remain running at normal operating levels, helping ensure the network remains stable.

Western Power has network solutions in place to manage system-low events and as part of our drive to evolve the grid and connect greater renewables, we’re looking at new ways to meet our customers changing energy needs.

This includes developing and using a range of tools to manage potential future network challenges like system low events while providing greater flexibility services for our customers. The Flexibility Services Pilot will see us partner with commercial and industrial businesses to test solutions. We’ve also been introducing technologies like community batteries, which soak up and reduce excess solar on the network.

Each tool is designed to be sustainable and help us actively co-ordinate traditional and customer-owned renewable energy sources on the grid and offer greater benefits to our customers.

We’re partnering with businesses who are connected to our distribution network and who can manage their energy flexibility.

100MW is a significant amount of power, so businesses we’ve been talking to either generate a lot of energy through solar PV or require large amounts of energy to power their businesses, such as manufacturing plants or large shopping complexes.

These businesses will voluntarily change, or shift, their energy use on low-load days, helping support the stability of the grid, in return for compensation by Western Power.

We’re open to talking to businesses that have smaller energy generation, or a unique way they could manage and create energy flexibility during the required periods of the Flexibility Services Pilot

This Pilot is designed to provide flexibility in the way businesses use energy, it Is not about using energy when no-one is there or for no end use. Each participant will determine the best way to productively manage their energy flexibility in order to suit the needs of their business.

This may include changing the time the business chooses to operate certain tasks, or even shutting off solar panels at certain times on the weekend when the business is not operating or pre-cooling at different times of day compared with the normal modes of operation.

No. The intent is to find new ways to effectively manage the amount of solar PV coming into our grid. That will allow for an overall increase in cost-effective renewable energy into the grid, without the need for costly infrastructure upgrades that impact network charges, keeping overall costs down.

In the long-term we see both residential customers and businesses becoming more involved in our energy market ecosystem, as both users and generators of energy. You can find out more at the through the WA Government’s DER Roadmap.

The energy market is rapidly changing, and we are committed to future-proofing the network. The extensive work we’re doing to ensure this such as our community battery trials and The Flexibility Services Pilot are helping to provide a clear understanding of where the opportunities lie for the grid and our customers.

One in three households in WA have solar PV and we want this to continue. We’re hugely supportive of renewable solar PV and we want to ensure solar PV is supported on the grid. To achieve this, we need to find ways to manage fluctuating power sources coming into the grid to ensure stability.

The Flexibility Services Pilot one of many tools we are testing to help us orchestrate power across the grid. These tools help us support more cost-effective renewable power on the grid while providing customers with more opportunities and flexibility to derive value from their investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

The results of this one-year Pilot will inform our future activities, which may require a change to the mechanism or even a different approach.

As the number of solar PV installations continues, we will continue to look for viable solutions to manage low-load, which will create opportunities as we work with partners and customers to create great energy outcomes for everyone.

The Flexibility Services Project is a Pilot and the first step of understanding the size and mechanisms for the provision of energy flexibility. As such we don’t currently have a position on what kind of flexibility is desirable from a grid or customer perspective, however, we’re happy to work with you to determine what flexibility would be best for your business.

This program is not focused on the size of a business’s individual load. The program is focused on businesses providing flexibility in the way they use energy, through curtailing solar PV generation or increasing energy consumption at pre-determined times and days.

The program is not about wastefully using energy when no-one is there or for no end-use. Each participant will determine the best way to productively manage their energy flexibility in order to suit the needs of their business.

Western Power has network solutions in place to manage system-low events and as part of our drive to evolve the grid and connect greater renewables, we’re looking at alternative options to meet our customers changing energy needs.

How The Flexibility Services Pilot will work

The trial program will run for one year initially, which is until the end of June 2021. The results of this one-year trial will inform our future activities.

To find out more about Challenge, please visit the 100MW Challenge site.

A ‘Partner’ is an aggregator who takes on a number of clients, ‘Participants’, who can include their infrastructure in the trial and manages the flexibility services on behalf of the client.

As a Partner, you play a critical role in working with your customers, ‘Participants’, to determine how to successfully provide flexibility services. Western Power’s contractual relationship is with you the Partner; therefore, you are required to ensure that your customers can provide flexibility services on the 25 pre-defined days.

Managing Events

During this pilot program, no events will be cancelled. The Program is one of a range of alternative options we’re trialling to create a more flexible grid that will support our customers’ changing energy needs.

To confirm this, metering data will be used after a flexibility event and measured against a baseline. It’s important to remember that Western Power will not be responsible for turning off solar systems and that as a Partner, you’re responsible for working with Participants to decide this