Western Power is undertaking essential network renewal and upgrade work in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area this week. To minimise the impact on the community, Western Power is ‘islanding’ the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area.
‘Islanding’ is an approach commonly used to ensure continued power supply to communities while network infrastructure upgrades and maintenance is undertaken.
Western Power CEO Sam Barbaro said during `islanding’, Kalgoorlie-Boulder would be disconnected from the grid and supplied with electricity by Synergy’s local gas turbine plant.
“We are fortunate the that the network configuration in this area gives us the option of undertaking major network maintenance work without turning the power off to all customers in the area,” he said.
Several years ago, Western Power took steps to limit the impact on the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area when essential maintenance and upgrades are required on the 220kV network by entering into a Network Control Service contract with Synergy for alternative generation via two gas turbine generators located near the West Kalgoorlie Terminal.
These generators can be used in the event of planned and unplanned outages. During a planned outage, such as this, customers are slowly and safely switched to the islanded network which is supplied with energy from the generators, avoiding power interruptions.
“This process involves significant planning and collaboration with Synergy and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with extra precautions in place to mitigate any potential issues including having Synergy technical experts on site to manage any generation issues.
“We’re also increasing our crews on the ground to ensure that, in the event of any unforeseen network issues, crews are standing by ready to go,” he said.
“Islanding will ensure continued power supply to the community while enabling the replacement of switchgear at Merredin Terminal substation to improve network resilience.
“As part of our network renewal and maintenance program, we’re constantly replacing and identifying infrastructure and assets as they age or that have been identified as needing replacing.”
“Our priority is to ensure the network is as resilient as possible,” he said.
“We’re working closely with Synergy and AEMO to mitigate the risk of any unplanned disruptions during these essential works.
“However, it is important to note that islanding is not a failsafe and that there is always risks when undertaking such highly complex works that an issue can arise which results in an outage. For this reason, it is prudent for people to pre-prepare for a potential outage if it would have a significant impact on them, like making sure medical equipment, computers and phone batteries are kept charged."
The work is expected to be completed between Tuesday 2 May and Saturday 6 May.