Utility fails on power benchmarks

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

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“The present poles and wires infrastructure across long distances is obsolete and far too expensive to maintain.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

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails