Western Power agrees to increase electricity for regional households following fallout


After a rule change in Western Australia (WA) saw regional customers unable to run their air conditioning at the same time as their induction cooktops, Western Power, the sole network operator for WA’s main grid, has agreed to increase regional electricity supply allocations.

The move comes after a seemingly innocuous change majorly disrupted both regional households and solar companies across WA’s south-western corner.

In February this year, Western Power implemented a new mandate for properties to install a main switch circuit breaker with any major electrical work – such as installing a solar system. The issue was that for regional properties, that circuit break would trip with a draw of over 32 Amps (an induction cooktop alone draws at least 20 Amps).

pv magazine Australia first reported on the issue in July 2022. On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Western Power announced it would begin increasing rural electricity supply allocations from 32 Amps to the standard 63 Amps given to urban properties after considering “recent community and industry feedback.”

The idea is to begin the increased supply allocated as a trial, though Western Power’s executive manager for asset management, Gair Landsborough, said he is “confident we’ll be able to standardise this.”

The trials will begin from now until March 2023, and will initially see the Shires of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Collie, Donnybrook-Balingup, Nannup, West Arthur and Williams with increased supply allocations.

Maximum demand calculation for a modest house with 10 power points, 10 lights, an electric oven and range, heat pump hot water system, aircon and a water pump. Calculations can be made via jcalc: https://www.jcalc.net/maximum-demand-calculator-as3000.

Image created via Screen shot from jCalc.NET

Landsborough noted that the new abundance of advanced metering technology means there is more detailed data than ever before.

“The data showed that the existing electrical infrastructure can support an increase in regional load, with network reinforcements to be implemented through our forward planning,” says Landsborough. “The trial will further support that the rural supply allocation is fit-for-purpose and we’re confident we’ll be able to standardise this, but we need to ensure this is managed in a safe and reliable way.”

The requirement for switch breakers to be installed following major electrical work will remain in place, though the hope is regional households won’t trip their power as soon as they switch on the oven.

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