Francis Logan

Francis Logan

Minister for Energy; Resources; Industry and Enterprise

    Electricity industry ready for summer

    22/12/2007 9:14 AM
     
    22/12/07

    Western Australia’s electricity industry is ready to face its most challenging time of year - summer.

    Energy Minister Francis Logan said several initiatives and projects over the past 12 months had improved the power grid’s preparedness for the extremes of summer.

    Mr Logan said this included Western Power’s unprecedented $100million works program that had seen the construction of four new substations and the installation of six new large transformers.

    The Minister said an analysis by the Office of Energy had also indicated that enough generation capacity was available to meet the expected demand over the summer months.

    There had been a 10 per cent increase in overall electricity use last summer and a similar rise was expected this year, particularly with the big increase in the use of air-conditioners.

    “WA has the highest percentage of residential air-conditioners in Australia and the increase in penetration has been rapid - from 47 per cent in 1999 to 82 per cent this year,” Mr Logan said.

    “Air-conditioners can contribute up to 50 per cent of electricity demand on days of extreme summer peak load and this significantly adds to the risk of overloads on the network.

    “In addition, Western Power expects to have connected 30,000 new homes and businesses to the network this year.”

    The major work completed by Western Power for this summer includes:
    • new substations at Henley Brook ($11.1million), Waikiki ($8.9million), Bibra Lake ($13.3million) and Bentley ($15.7million);
    • new transformers in substations at Morley ($3.1million), Yokine ($3.6milion), Padbury ($2.85million), Amherst ($3million), Byford ($3.7million) and Katanning ($2.3million);
    • upgrade of Southern Terminal ($800,000);
    • new feeders at Padbury, Morley, Waikiki, Kalamunda, Henley Brook, Northam and Bibra Lake;
    • network reinforcement at Mullalloo, Yanchep and Denmark;
    • upgrade work at Nedlands, Southern River, Gosnells and Canning Vale; and
    • replacement of 214 distribution transformers ($6.7million).
    The Minister said Western Power was also taking steps to reduce the occurrence of pole-top fires - 19,000 poles would be silicone-coated and 30 major transmission lines would be washed this summer using helicopter patrols.

    “All this work and capital works projects should enable Western Power to meet the increased use of power during the summer peak and to reduce the number of outages caused by overloads,” he said.

    Western Power managing director Doug Aberle said summer also brought a heightened risk of bushfires and Western Power was investing $128million over the next three years on a bushfire prevention strategy.

    Mr Aberle said Western Power had recently committed to a three-year, $300,000 sponsorship of FESA where up to $5,000 worth of equipment was available to volunteer fire-fighting brigades across the network.

    “Creating a partnership with FESA is an important part of our bushfire management strategy - we are proud to be involved with FESA in this terrific partnership,” he said.

    Mr Aberle said Western Power was also involved in a number of innovative bush fire prevention strategies, including research into the use of steel poles in high fire risk areas.

    He said he believed Western Power was in a strong position to meet the challenges of summer.

    Mr Logan said the Office of Energy’s summer readiness report had also indicated that Horizon Power was well prepared for summer in regional and cyclone-prone areas of the State.

    “Horizon Power has prepared its systems for extremes in environmental conditions,” he said.

    “But in the most extreme conditions, as might occur when cyclones pass over major settlements or when there is severe flooding, some level of power failure is unavoidable.

    “To deal with these extreme circumstances, Horizon has plans in place to minimise power loss and to quickly restore power. These include a cyclone response plan and emergency response plans for each of its sites, together with a corporate crisis management plan to cover such eventualities.”

    Copies of the summer readiness report are available at http://www.energy.wa.gov.au

    Minister's office - 9222 8950