Power upgrade delivers boost for solar customers

Powercor lineworker in crane bucket (power upgrade)
Powercor lineworker Jason Mifsud (Image: Powercor)

Some of Victoria’s leading rooftop solar areas can now share more of their electricity thanks to a major power upgrade by Powercor.

Thousands of customers across parts of central and western Victoria are now benefitting from the network power upgrades delivered by Powercor, to better support the rise in rooftop solar installations and enable more customers to get the most out of their solar investment.

Since March, Powercor crews have completed more than 500 different network alterations and other activities across nine key regions identified as having high levels of rooftop solar under its Solar Hotspots program. These areas include Ballarat, Bendigo, Bacchus Marsh, Point Cook, Sunshine, Portland, Maryborough, Hoppers Crossing and Melton.

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These areas were among the most constrained parts of the network, with a new solar connections export approval rate of just over 60 per cent at the start of the year.

Since Powercor’s works, these areas are now among the best areas for approval of new solar connections to export, with approval rates now above 90 per cent, which is even higher than the Powercor network wide average of 89 per cent.

The works have improved export capacity for our customers and also reduce the tripping of existing solar systems that can otherwise be caused by voltage issues when large amounts of excess solar is exported into the electricity network.

The program is the first stage of a five-year Future Networks program designed to support customer investment in solar, electric vehicles and battery storage.

Powercor general manager electricity networks Mark Clarke said crews conducted activities at over 30 sites a week for more than three months, upgrading infrastructure, adjusting tap settings on street-level transformers, balancing voltage levels on powerlines and making adjustments at zone substations.

“We’re seeing a real lift in the number of customers able to export excess solar back into the grid in these areas, which were among the most constrained in our network only a few months ago,” Mr Clarke said.

“These works are allowing most of our customers in these areas to export their excess solar, while also supporting Victoria to reduce emissions and increase the use of clean energy generated by customers at home.”

About 22 per cent of residential customers (more than 161,000) on the Powercor network now have solar power, with a total installed capacity of 631MW across the network today. In the past 12 months, more than 24,000 new residential customers have connected solar to the Powercor network.

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The Future Networks program will benefit all areas across the Powercor network and incorporates a dedicated solar enablement initiative, while expanding the network’s digital capability to facilitate a variety of choices for customers.

“We recognise the future of energy is being driven by customer choices and these works are part of the ways we’re working to enable them,” Mr Clarke said.

Powercor has contacted all customers within these areas to advise them that work has been completed and to encourage them to consider reapplying for exports if they’ve been unsuccessful in the past.