Solar installation on Western Power agenda

Western Power is working with the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) to collaboratively improve processes and outcomes on smaller (sub 30kW) solar installations for commercial premises.

The Western Australia utility and the SEA hope to address challenges facing commercial clients wanting to install solar PV on their business premises.

The major challenge has been for those businesses interested in installing solar panel arrays of greater than 30kW in size, but even systems less than 30kW have created issues for installation.

SEA adviser Neil Prentice and a number of SEA members have led the process, and a broad ranging stakeholder forum was held with Western Power, SEA, SEA Members, the National Electrical Contractors Association, government and other industry representatives, to look at how to improve Western Power’s handling of PV connection applications.

“After listening to our stakeholders, we had a deeper understanding of how our processes were affecting them. We also found that they had some pretty workable requests in regards to what we could do to make their lives easier,” Western Power manager sustainability Louise Avon-Smith said.

The latest data from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator shows that more than 750,000 homes in Australia are now equipped with solar PV panels totalling almost 1.7 GW of installed capacity.

Western Australia now has more than 104,000 rooftops with solar installed, adding a total of 218MW of solar capacity to the electricity grid in south-west Western Australia, but most solar is on homes and very few on business rooftops.

SEA welcomed Western Power’s strong engagement to deal with issues that will cover off from both industry and Western Power’s sides of the process.

“SEA recognises that not all issues will be easy nor quick to resolve, and Western Power’s readiness to engage actively with industry is much appreciated,” SEA chief adviser Professor Ray Wills said.