Western Australia's Western Power recently added a new electricity network reliability section to its website. Find out more about it here.

Electricity network reliability in Western Australia

WA’s Western Power recently added an interesting new electricity network reliability section to its website.

State Government owned Western Power is tasked with building, maintaining and operating an electricity network connecting 2.3 million customers. Forming the vast majority of the South West Interconnected Network (SWIN), Western Power’s patch covers 255,064 square kilometres – from Kalbarri in the north to Kalgoorlie in the east and Albany in the south, and includes the Perth metropolitan area.

As in any electricity network, sometimes bad things happen. And they certainly did for a bunch of Perth households during sweltering conditions last year. A series of blackouts began on Christmas Eve and lasted until December 28, impacting 107,000 Western Power customers. But beyond Perth there are a number of areas experiencing significant electricity reliability issues on an ongoing basis, both in terms of the frequency of blackouts and their duration.

Among the recommendations of an independent review of the Christmas 2021 event were improvements to the company’s customer and community communications.

“Part of our work in implementing the review’s recommendations includes improving the way we communicate with the community and key stakeholders regarding reliability,” said Western Power Growth Executive Ben Stanton last week.

SWIN Local Government Areas Most Impacted

One of the enhancements has come in the form of a new web page with information on locations particularly prone to power outages. These are generally in regional areas, which have infrastructure more affected by severe weather events.

The following is a summary of the LGAs most impacted. The times noted are average times without power per customer in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21.

  • Shire of Northampton: 65 hours & 36 minutes, down from 397 hours & 5 minutes
  • Shire of Perenjori: 72 hours & 4 minutes, down from 386 hours & 59 minute
  • Shire Of Chapman Valley: 56 hours & 26 minutes, down from 274 hours & 37 minutes
  • Shire of Coorow: 57 hours & 48 minutes, up from 42 hours & 30 minutes
  • Shire of Irwin: 63 hours & 38 minutes, up from 34 hours & 8 minutes
  • Shire of Ravensthorpe: 53 hours & 18 minutes, up from 19 hours & 56 minutes
  • Shire of Lake Grace: 44 hours & 43 minutes, up from 23 hours & 28 minutes
  • Shire of Wickepin: 41 hours & 30 minutes, up from 14 hours & 39 minutes
  • Shire of Dumbleyung: 39 hours & 11 minutes, up from 21 hours & 55 minutes
  • Shire of Gnowangerup: 33 hours & 6 minutes, up from 12 hours & 59 minutes

As for LGAs impacted by outages over Christmas 2021 (2021/22 compared to 2020/21):

  • City of Mandurah: 4 hours & 24 minutes, up from 3 hours & 57 minutes
  • City of Wanneroo: 4 hours & 15 minutes, up from 1 hour & 41 minutes
  • City of Armadale: 7 hours & 17 minutes, up from 5 hours & 1 minute
  • City of Greater Geraldton: 12 hours & 18 minutes, down from 98 hours & 39 minutes
  • Shire of Chapman Valley: noted above
  • Shire of Murray: 7 hours & 28 minutes, up from 3 hours & 52 minutes in 2020/2021
  • Shire of Gingin: 27 hours & 43 minutes, up from 25 hours & 44 minutes
  • City of Swan: 3 hours & 41 minutes, down from 6 hours & 44 minutes

Some of the 2021/22 figures seem a bit brief given the Xmas event, but I didn’t delve into them.

The Western Power Network Reliability page also compares the number of outages, details scheduled works for 2022/23, shows maps of feeders and offers general related network statistics for each LGA mentioned above.

“This website enhancement is one way we can provide transparent information and assure the community we’re learning and improving from last summer to keep the community safely connected and informed during extreme weather events,” said Mr. Stanton.

Thinking Solar Batteries For Blackout Backup?

Having a grid-connected home solar power system is a great thing. But an important safety feature called anti-islanding built into solar inverters means when grid supply is interrupted, generally speaking solar systems are knocked offline as well for the duration of the event.

Blackouts (or the threat of blackouts) tend to get solar owners thinking more about installing a home battery. As we mentioned last week with regard to the four levels of backup, it’s important to get the right battery (and installed correctly) – otherwise your home may still be without power during such an event.

To learn everything you need to know about home energy storage, read SolarQuotes Founder Finn Peacock’s guides to understanding, buying and owning solar batteries.

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