A new 330,000-volt transmission line between Perth and Geraldton will be the longest built by Western Power in 20 years.
Last week, in the State Budget, Treasurer Eric Ripper announced funding of $295million to build the line to meet the growing demand for power in the Mid-West and provide a connection point for new generation, including wind farms and other renewable and established energy projects.
Speaking in Geraldton today, Energy Minister Francis Logan said the new line demonstrated the Carpenter Government’s strong commitment to improving power supplies to country areas of the network.
“This project will provide many benefits to the community and, by adding more power to the system, it will support and encourage economic activity in the region,” Mr Logan said.
“The new transmission line will increase the network’s capacity to deliver power to the Mid-West by up to six times - that’s enough power for 330,000 new homes. This capacity will increase even more with local generation.
“There will also be opportunities for local suppliers and tradespersons to be involved during the construction of the line.
“It will encourage the development of renewable energy in the region, most notably through the establishment of wind farms, and finally it will provide enhanced network security and stability for the region.”
The Minister said the existing 132kV transmission lines did not have sufficient capacity to allow for the expansion of the Mid-West region.
He said significant investment was required to meet the increased power demand by the summer 2010-11 and to provide for forecast development.
Western Power managing director Doug Aberle said the new line would be constructed in two sections.
“The first section will see one of the existing 132kV transmission lines between Pinjar and Eneabba rebuilt as a 330kV line,” Mr Aberle said.
“The second section of line will traverse through land where no existing power infrastructure exists, along a chosen route between Eneabba and a new substation at Moonyoonooka, about 15km east of Geraldton.”
Mr Aberle said Western Power had received preliminary approval for the project from the Economic Regulation Authority and was in the process of seeking environmental approval.
Mr Logan said the new Perth-to-Geraldton line was just one of the projects under way in the Mid-West to increase power capacity, improve reliability and reduce the impact of pole top fires. Other projects included:
· the construction of a new $5.4million powerline from Rudds Gully to Dongara, that would improve power capacity, reliability and security for more than 2,000 properties;
· the installation of new transformers at the Chapman and Rangeway substations to meet the growing demand for power in the region and improve reliability. The total cost was $10million; and
· the $4million scheme to reduce pole-top fires around the State by washing and silicone coating pole tops - 20 per cent of this work was being carried out north of Perth, particularly in Geraldton, where poles were vulnerable to salt build-up on insulators.
“Never before in the State’s history has so much money been spent on upgrading the main electricity network,” Mr Logan said.
“From 2001 when we were elected through to 2012, we will have spent $8.5billion on the network - a staggering amount.
“It has been a period of enormous reform within Western Australia’s electricity sector.
“Since Western Power was disaggregated, 11 new privately owned generation facilities have entered - or will be entering - the market, a total investment of more than $2billion.
“This includes six gas-powered generation facilities, two coal-fired plants, two wind farms and a biomass plant. This mix of renewable, gas and coal plants represents good diversity and some of these projects will certainly have direct benefit to the Mid-West.”
Minister's office: 9222 8950