Western Power’s stand-alone power system (SPS) pilot, in the Great Southern region of WA, has delivered 15 fold reliability improvement for regional customers.
The $4 million 12-month pilot, which began in July 2016, utilises renewable energy and battery storage, and has reduced the average time of outages for the six pilot properties to less than five hours with two properties recording no outages at all.
A report on the outcomes of the 12-month test outlines the contrast to surrounding community members experiencing average outages of almost 70 hours over the same period.
Western Power CEO, Guy Chalkley, said the pilot proves that innovative technology solutions improve customer reliability.
“Early modelling shows that SPS could reduce network cost by more than $300 million, with the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars as solar and batteries costs come down,” Mr Chalkley said.
“SPS offers an alternative to poles and powerlines during upgrade and replacement for edge of grid customers, which would reduce network operating costs for metro and regional customers.”
Western Power has identified more than 3,000 families and businesses that could benefit from this technology, which would represent a smarter investment in the grid than traditional poles and wires.
“The pilot has proven that SPS units work and supply a level of reliability to edge-of-grid customers that’s almost on par with metropolitan reliability levels,” Mr Chalkley said.
Western Power is keen to expand the initiative, however, under regulations drafted before alternative technologies were prevalent, are precluded from generating energy. The company recently committed to supplying the six properties via the SPS for a further three years, in the hope that regulatory certainty will green light the future use of SPS.
These types of non-traditional energy solutions have the potential to deliver new jobs and skills in regional locations, to support industries of the future.
“We want to provide the service that’s in the best interest of our customers. As a utility it means supplying people with electricity in a way that’s safe, reliable and efficient,” Mr Chalkley said.