Five small off-grid solar power stations with energy storage will replace mains-grid supply in a pilot project in Western Australia.
Devastating bushfires late last year in the Esperance region destroyed hundreds of power poles and hundreds of kilometres of powerlines.
While many customers were reconnected within ten days, five properties have chosen off-grid solar power systems as part of a partnership with Horizon Power.
“This is one of the many innovative projects the Government is currently exploring to power regional and isolated Western Australian communities more efficiently and reliably,” said Energy Minister Mike Nahan.
“Western Power is also partnering with Horizon Power and Synergy to undertake a pilot project to evaluate the use of stand-alone power systems in other parts of regional WA.”
Projects such as this can make very good financial sense for electricity distributors. The Esperance project will be supplying customers on parts of the network which had previously supplied only one or two customers along long stretches of powerline.
“These customers are pioneers of these new systems, which will be owned and operated by Horizon Power,” said Horizon Power Managing Director Frank Tudor.
“The customers will pay the same cost for their electricity supplied by these units as they did previously for power supplied by poles and wires,” Mr Tudor said.
Horizon Power is State Government-owned and provides services to around 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses across regional and remote Western Australia.
A farmer in Cape Le Grande, east of Esperance, will be the first customer connected under the project.
“I saw it as an opportunity to have something more than we had ever hoped for – a reliable, clean energy source which will deliver even better service than we had in the past,” said Rodney Locke.
“It won’t be affected by outages caused by maintenance on the network or weather-related events.”
In January, Western Power announced a $26 million network reconstruction project to repair damage from the South West bushfire, making it the biggest restoration job in the utility’s history. 873 power poles, 77 transmission poles, 44 transformers and up to 50 kilometres of power lines were destroyed. Western Power builds, maintain and operate the electricity network in the south west corner of Western Australia.