Util­ity fails on power bench­marks

Albany Extra - - Extra News - Saskia Adysti

Western Power has failed to meet its own bench­mark for power out­ages in the Shire of Den­mark af­ter nearly dou­bling the num­ber of out­ages tar­geted by the Eco­nomic Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity (ERA) for 2016-17.

About five in­ter­rup­tions per cus­tomer per year was con­sid­ered ac­cept­able by the ERA but Den­mark’s recorded nearly 10 in­ter­rup­tions per cus­tomer dur­ing that pe­riod.

There was also an in­crease in the num­ber of un­planned out­ages since 2014, grow­ing from 174 in 2014-15 to 210 last year.

In the past two years less than 20 per cent of power out­ages in Den­mark were planned, and cus­tomers no­ti­fied in ad­vance.

How­ever 81 per cent of out­ages in Den­mark in that pe­riod were due to storms, veg­e­ta­tion, wildlife, de­bris and me­chan­i­cal fail­ures.

A Western Power spokesman said the rea­son for the power out­age fre­quency in Den­mark was due to the town’s lo­ca­tion, which is prone to en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­rup­tions.

“Den­mark’s net­work is spread across a larger iso­lated area, feed­ing a smaller pop­u­la­tion, which presents chal­lenges for Western Power to quickly re­store power,” he said.

“There’s limited abil­ity to re­di­rect power to the town if the main feeder line from Al­bany is af­fected dur­ing an un­planned out­age.

“It’s hoped that the un­der­ground cable main­te­nance and re­place- ment pro­gram will im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity.”

In Den­mark’s Kent-Nor­nalup ward, power out­ages were recorded nearly every month over the past two years.

This out­age fre­quency urged former Den­mark coun­cil­lor Clem Wright, who said he wanted to raise a mo­tion in Oc­to­ber to ask the Shire’s chief ex­ec­u­tive to sched­ule a meet­ing with Western Power to iden­tify prac­ti­cal steps to be taken in the fu­ture to re­duce power cut num­bers.

“With ever ris­ing elec­tric­ity prices, it is even more out­ra­geous that we can­not rely on a con­stant source of power,” Mr Wright said.

“The present poles and wires in­fra­struc­ture across long dis­tances is ob­so­lete and far too ex­pen­sive to main­tain.

“In the longer term, in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties will need to be­come self-suf­fi­cient in power gen­er­a­tion through a com­bi­na­tion of wind, so­lar, and wave with per­haps diesel gen­er­a­tor back-up.”

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