New figures released today show that a multi-million dollar upgrade program has dramatically improved power reliability in the northern half of the main electricity grid.
Energy Minister Francis Logan said the figures from Western Power indicated that reliability had improved by 23 per cent over the last year, with total minutes lost falling from 710 to 544.
In the same period to July this year, Mr Logan said electricity equipment failure had reduced by 27 per cent and pole-top fires had fallen by 55 per cent.
The figures refer to the area that stretches from Kalbarri in the north to New Norcia in the south and includes the city of Geraldton.
The Minister said the figures coincided with a $22million program to improve power supplies in the northern half of the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
The 2007-09 program involved 28 projects as part of the State Government’s Rural Power Improvement Program (RPIP), focusing on sections of the rural network that were most in need of upgrades to improve power reliability.
These projects, several of which have already been completed, include:
· Pole reinforcement: Upgrading and reinforcing 2,916 poles in Kalbarri, Dalwallinu, Latham, Jurien, Dandaragan, New Norcia, Watheroo, Merredin and Kondinin. Some minor upgrade work will be carried out around Wongan Hills and Leeman. Ninety per cent of the work has been completed.
· Powerline reinforcement: Rebuilding 28km of three-phase line sections in New Norcia (completed), 16km of three-phase line sections in Latham (completed), 13km of three-phase line in Dandaragan (completed) and 16.8km of three-phase line sections in Jurien (starts soon).
· Installation of automated devices: An unprecedented 162 new automated devices have been installed from Kalbarri, Jurien, Moora, Northam, Merredin and Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie. These devices are expected to demonstrate significant improvement in fault location and restoration timeframes. More devices are scheduled to be installed in Dongara, Kulin, Narembeen, Hyden and Moorine Rock.
· Major powerline rebuild: Six projects are currently in design phase, with work due to begin early in 2009. They include 21.2km of line from Northam to Toodyay, 25.7km from Toodyay to Bolgart, 26.7km from Moora to Dandaragan, 21.7km from Three Springs to Mingenew, 7.4km single-phase spur line in Northampton and seven-kilometre, three-phase line in Meckering.
Western Power managing director Doug Aberle said two major powerline reinforcement projects had also been completed recently - the 53km extension of the line from Rudds Gully to Dongara and Port Denison and the rebuilding of a 21.1km section of the Watheroo line serviced from the Moora substation.
Mr Aberle said the Rudds Gully-Dongara extension was designed to reduce the electrical load on the current line and would improve the capacity, reliability and security of electricity for about 2,000 residents of Dongara and surrounding areas.
The reinforcement of the Watheroo feeder, which would cost more than $2million, involved the replacement of 21km of powerlines using aluminium.
“The new aluminium line replaces the old copper line and is thicker and more resistant to faults,” Mr Aberle said.
“This rebuild will make a marked difference to the region. The larger carrying capacity of the new line will enable Western Power to transmit more electricity to Watheroo, allowing for new connections and power upgrades.”
Mr Logan said the State Government was spending millions of dollars on improving electricity infrastructure north of Perth.
This included a new 330,000-volt transmission line between Perth and Geraldton - the longest built by Western Power in 20 years.
The $295million line would 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.
“The new line, coupled with all the other work being carried out in the region, demonstrates the Carpenter Government’s strong commitment to improving power supplies to country areas of the network,” the Minister said.
“Never before in the State’s history has so much money been spent on upgrading the main electricity network.”
Minister's office - 9222 8950