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A $700,000 equipment upgrade to network assets will enable faster restoration of power supply to communities in the Mid West.

Using more advanced technology, Western Power will be replacing four Ring Main Units (RMUs) – three in the Shire of Irwin and one in the City of Greater Geraldton – with equipment that will enable automatic fault detection and remote switching capability.

This means that in the event of an outage, the RMUs will be able to operate automatically rather than waiting for crews to attend, which will significantly reduce the duration of unplanned outages.

RMUs (also known as distribution switchgear) are a centralised collection of circuit breakers, fuses and switches (electrical circuit protection devices) that control, protect and isolate electrical equipment for maintenance and in case of emergencies.

The RMU’s to be replaced are at existing sites in road reserve, with two to be replaced in Port Denison and one each in Dongara and Deepdale. Work will begin late March with completion aimed for early April 2023.

These upgrades are part of a wider package of work aimed at improving reliability and reducing outage length and frequency throughout the Mid-West, with a particular focus on the communities of Dongara, Port Denison, Springfield and Milo.

Western Power Asset Management Executive Manager Gair Landsborough said using new technology where possible was part of the business’s strategy to improve power reliability in areas affected by changing weather conditions resulting from climate change.

“RMUs help to balance the network by making sure voltage doesn’t drop, and to interconnect feeders, forming a loop in local networks so that we can restore power more quickly,” he said.

“While we try and avoid outages as much as possible, in some circumstances they cannot be avoided particularly due to external forces such as weather, vegetation or interaction with wildlife.

“By using the latest technology, we can now automatically manage parts of the regional network which is extremely beneficial.

“There have been some communities in the Mid West that have been experiencing frequent outages and we’ve been working to improve reliability through a targeted infrastructure maintenance and replacement program.

“This includes a helicopter siliconing and washing program targeting up to 400 insulators in the areas of Milo, Mt Adams, Dongara, Springfield, Port Denison and Yardarino which began this month.

“Western Power has invested more than $16M on bushfire mitigation in the Mid West including $2.5M on replacing conductors, $10M on pole replacement and reinforcement, $2M on insulator replacement and $1.5M on vegetation management.”

To undertake the RMU work safely there will need to be power interruptions at each location. We will notify customers directly who will be impacted by these works.

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