Western Power has enhanced its forecasting and load balancing to improve the way it manages the network in line with changing environmental conditions and community energy use.
With the increase in rooftop solar, and data from growing network smarts like Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Western Power now has greater insight and understanding of future demand on network infrastructure such as distribution transformers and feeders.
These improved measures are part of work to strengthen network resilience following the record December 2021 heatwave.
As part of this, work has been done to balance load through switching overloaded feeders to adjacent feeders with extra capacity. Western Power has completed work on 42 of 52 feeders with the rest scheduled for completion before Christmas.
Feeders are the conductors (underground cables or poles and wires) which connect from a zone substation to distribution transformers. Distribution transformers convert the medium voltage used in feeders to low voltage suitable for residential use.
Western Power’s Grid Transformation team has undertaken many in-depth studies to assess where measures such as switching could reduce or solve overloading caused by high demand to reduce the potential for outages.
Switching is the process of moving electricity from one circuit to another – essentially re-routing the flow of energy, similar to traffic management re-directing vehicles on an alternate route if a road is congested.
Work to balance load through switching from overloaded feeders to adjacent feeders with extra capacity has taken place in Beechboro, Bibra Lake, Bunbury, Busselton, Cockburn, Morley, Scarborough, Muchea, North Beach, Pinjarra/Coolup, Southern River, Wanneroo, East Perth, Joondalup, Lansdale, Clarkson, Yokine and Meadow Springs, with more locations to follow.
Head of Grid Transformation Ben Bristow said the methodology to predict distribution transformer load has been reviewed to take into account the changes in grid demand via customer behaviour and use patterns, including the uptake of solar PV systems.
“Using technology such as AMI, Western Power can now better understand energy consumption,” he said.
“In the case of the record consecutive days of extreme hot weather experienced in the December 2021 heatwave, demand was high and infrastructure was not able to cool down or cope with the unprecedented increased load, leading to power outages.
“We’ve actively reduced load from these feeders by reconfiguring the network, identifying infrastructure which can adequately cope with greater demand and ‘switching’ more electricity flow to these assets.
“This has included offloading parts of the distribution network to adjacent feeders, offloading of feeders to adjacent substations or adjacent transformers to prevent overloads and tripping.
“While no network can guarantee 100 per cent reliability and outages do happen as part of normal network operations, through these updated processes we’re working to reduce the risk of people experiencing outages and minimising the duration should they occur.