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Western Power has done significant work to prepare the network for the coming summer following the power outages experienced during the record-breaking heatwave last year.

The business is continuing to undertake a swathe of work to address the recommendations of the independent Christmas 2021 power outage review undertaken by Michelle Shepherd. 

Western Power crew fixing electricity lines in a residential street

Western Power CEO Sam Barbaro said extensive work was continuing to improve reliability including enhancing forecasting to enable better network management during consecutive extreme hot weather days, reviewing switching patterns and upgrading and replacing key infrastructure.   

“Much of this work was already underway with increasing climate change and weather impacts, but we’ve fast tracked works ahead of summer to improve power reliability where possible,” he said. 

“A key aim is improving our low voltage forecasting methodology by incorporating advanced metering (AMI) data, considering the rise in rooftop solar and changing weather patterns. 

“We’re also revising load forecasts for our distribution network and using relevant CSIRO long-term climate change projections to forecast heatwave frequency and intensity.  

“Minimising the length and number of unplanned outages is a priority. We’re working on several initiatives to improve the network’s reliability, which will help in situations like the Christmas heatwave where overloading occurred. 

“This includes reinforcement works for a number of substations including Mandurah, Waikiki, Yanchep and Byford, and upgrading 70 distribution transformers before the end of the year. 

“We’ve taken onboard community feedback regarding frustration with delayed restoration times, during high fire weather days, and we’re working with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and local governments to review fire risk management approaches. 

“This includes reviewing how we can reduce the time we have to wait to operate the network to restore customers on these days, while continuing to ensure community safety. 

“We’re improving communications in the lead up to and during outage events to keep our customers updated with timely and effective information.”

Mr Barbaro said Western Power undertakes an extensive bushfire mitigation program each year. This year included pole replacement; conductor replacements and vegetation management – at a cost of approximately $158 million ($85 million on pole replacements; $52 million on conductor replacements and $21 million on vegetation management). 

“While we all know that 100 per cent reliability is not possible, we are doing all that we can to prevent outages and maintain our 99.91 per cent reliability record,” he said.

“I am excited that in several areas of the business, we have started using newer and greener technology to support better reliability, and this will only increase into the future. 

“We understand the inconvenience power outages can cause residents, particularly in regional and remote areas of the South West Interconnected System, which is why we have taken on the recommendations of the Christmas 2021 power outage review. 

“We also continue to look at ways to deliver safe and reliable power to the community.” 

Western Power recently launched, with the WA Government and Synergy, a Summer Readiness campaign to raise awareness on peak energy use over summer.  

Perth and Peel households are being encouraged to make small changes to maintain reliable power during peak demand periods between 5pm and 9pm.

Households can reduce their energy use and save money during peak demand periods by:

  • Limiting the use of major appliances (washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers) between 5pm and 9pm;
  • keeping air conditioner settings at 24 degrees - every degree lower on your air conditioner can add 10 per cent to your electricity cost; and
  • using pool pumps during the middle of the day.

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