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The Western Australian Government has approved all recommendations made in an independent review of the Christmas 2021 Power Outages, including permanently increasing extended outage payments.

The extended outage payments will be increased from $80 to $120 for eligible Western Power and Horizon Power customers.

The approved recommendations also include improving:

  • Western Power’s planning and forecasting
  • Approach to fire risk management 
  • Operational response to extreme weather events
  • Customer and community communications
  • Transparency of reliability issues

State Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, released the independent review by tabling it in the State Parliament.

“The Christmas 2021 power outage review has revealed 100 per cent power reliability isn’t possible, but improvements can be made to ensure Western Power is prepared to safely manage future events,” Mr Johnston said.

“Western Power is already preparing for future outages by rolling out batteries, microgrids, standalone power systems and other network improvements.

“I look forward to announcing the progress in improving Western Australia’s electricity network and thank Michelle Shepherd for completing this review.”

The review, undertaken by Australian Energy Market Commissioner, Michelle Shepherd, found the Christmas outages (starting Christmas Eve until December 28) impacted 107,000 Western Power customers in the Perth, Peel, South-West and Mid-West regions.

Western Australians endured record-breaking high temperatures over the four days, resulting in abnormally high use of air conditioners and fans, which put pressure on the network.

 The report noted these types of events, while historically rare, may occur more frequently due to the impacts of climate change.

“The Christmas outages occurred during an extreme heatwave resulting in electricity demand exceeding historical peaks in some residential areas,” Ms Shepherd said. 

“The outages were largely caused by parts of the network not having the capacity to meet the unusually high electricity demand.

 “This report makes a number of recommendations to reduce the likelihood and impact of outages in the future, especially during extreme weather conditions.”

The review found that the State Government approved all funding requests made by Western Power towards capital improvements to the distribution network over the past five years.

 It states there was ‘no evidence that investments were delayed or did not occur due to regulatory or governmental decisions’.

Residential and small business customers who consume less than 50MW hours of electricity a year are eligible if they experience an outage longer than 12 hours.

Usually, a claim must be made within 60 days of an outage, but as part of the transition to the higher payment, customers have until 5pm 29 August 2022 to make a claim for any extended outage that has occurred from 1 January 2022.

Customers who have already made a claim for and been paid the existing $80 for an outage since 1 January 2022 will automatically be paid the additional $40 by 30 April 30 2022.

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