Western Power seeks new approach to power planning

Western Power is seeking expressions of interest from businesses and community groups who may be able to provide non-network solutions to manage electricity demand in the Mandurah region, south of metropolitan Perth.

The Mandurah load area has one of the highest rates of population growth in the country and, in the next five years, demand is forecast to place pressure on electricity infrastructure in the region.

Western Power’s executive manager asset management Seán Mc Goldrick said more than $30 million of network investment would be required by 2020/21 under current design protocols to meet demand.

“Our current forecasts show a steady increase in electricity demand as the Mandurah region continues to grow and normally Western Power would install extra network capacity to keep pace with that demand,” Mr Mc Goldrick said.

“However, non-network solutions, such as communities better managing or reducing energy consumption or that involve solar systems and battery storage, may be more cost efficient and provide greater flexibility over the long-term.”

Mr Mc Goldrick said the challenge of meeting a community’s power needs was no longer a job for a central planning group. Where historically, the power system had been planned by utilities, such as Western Power, increasingly communities and individual electricity consumers were having a say in how and where they will access their energy.

“These days, meeting demand for power is a collaborative effort that involves the entire community,” he said.

“We can’t just install new transformers, larger poles and longer wires, and expect our customers will be happy for them to possibly sit idle.

“We are embracing opportunities, such as which exists in the Mandurah region, to test alternative methods and technologies to reduce peak demand and provide more cost effective ways to deliver electricity to our customers.”