Western Power reveals summer plans

Following last summer's black out debacle Western Power yesterday unveiled a short-term snapshot of the electricity system to show that the company is in a far better position to meet demand in summer 2005 than was the case in summer 2004.
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The 'Summer Outlook' defined how expected demand will be met with available generation and provided a measure of the reserve generating capacity required to secure power supplies over the next two years.

Western Power managing director Tony Iannello said the Summer Outlook showed Western Power was well prepared to meet the expected power demand of the South West of the State in the coming summer.

"The Summer Outlook shows a significant actual improvement in available capacity for summer 2005 with greater flexibility in the mix of fuels," Iannello said.

"Western Power has put in place broad fuel arrangements – the restoration of oil-firing at Kwinana raising the reliable output by 160MW and the option to purchase gas from Wesfarmers – to mitigate against the restrictions on gas supplies that led to the supply restrictions of last summer," he said.

However the proof will be in the pudding for the thousands of Perth residents forced to endure extended delays without power on some of last summer's hottest days.

Additionally Western Power came in for a lot of criticism over revelations it will spend $10 million leasing imported, oil burning power generators, which it expects to run for only around 40 hours during a four month leasing period commencing in December.

The state utility has ordered four 20MW mobile generators from the United States, as a back up to prevent the repeat of February's power shortages which affected widespread parts of Western Australia. The generators will be fired by an oil stockpile Western Power has been accumulating in recent months at a cost of around $30 million.

Despite the furor surrounding the acquisitions Western Power remains positive. Available capacity is expected to increase by up to 186MW thanks to work to install air-intake cooling sprays at Pinjar power station, the upgrade of a section of the network in Kalgoorlie to allow greater interconnection capacity with private generation and work with major customers to improve the demand management response.

"This places Western Power in a substantially better position to meet demand this summer compared to last summer even taking into account the unprecedented and unrelenting growth in air-conditioning demand," Iannello said.

"Risks exist within any power system. While it would be unconscionable for Western Power to declare that there will be absolutely no problems with power supplies, it's important that our customers are confident that Western Power has done everything in its power to provide security of supply," he said.

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