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State-owned utility Western Power will invest $10.4 million into Western Australia’s energy grid, upgrading switching capabilities and improving reliability in adverse conditions.

Unprecedented load conditions during the Christmas 2021 heat wave exposed critical vulnerabilities in the Western Australian energy grid, impacting about 107,000 households and businesses.

In response, Western Power will aim to improve network reliability by mitigating feeder issues, due to overutilisation, and create greater capacity for forecasted future customer demand.

The upgrade involves reinforcement work undertaken across eight substations, including new feeders and interconnectors with additional switching and offload capability.

Energy Minister for Western Australia, Bill Johnston, said the upgrades were in line with an independent review of grid stability in the wake of the 2021 heat wave.

“Following the heatwave and in line with recommendations from the independent review into the Christmas power outages, Western Power has mitigated any risks and accelerated works prior to the coming summer season,” Mr Johnston said.

“A thorough review has been undertaken looking at the most impacted locations, based on customer numbers and outage times in the cities of Swan, Mandurah, Wanneroo, Armadale and Gosnells.

“With ongoing climate change, it’s imperative our essential infrastructure can withstand extreme weather events, while Western Power continues to ensure Western Australians continue to have safe, affordable and reliable power.”

Three substation upgrades at Clarkson, Byford and Yanchep have been completed with reinforcement work being done to mitigate capacity overloads.

Work will soon start at the Waikiki substation, which is an important power supply in the southern area.

Other works planned include installing new feeders at Mandurah, Byford, Waikiki and Henley Brook substations and installing a new cable and changes to configuration at Yanchep.

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