10/03/2016 - 06:35

Esperance bushfire victims go solar

10/03/2016 - 06:35

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Solar-powered battery storage devices are being installed in Esperance to provide power to a handful of people previously connected to the electricity infrastructure razed by last November’s bushfires.

Esperance bushfire victims go solar
Frank Tudor says the customers who will receive the solar powered and battery storage devices are ‘pioneers’.

Solar-powered battery storage devices are being installed in Esperance to provide power to a handful of people previously connected to the electricity infrastructure razed by last November’s bushfires.

Energy Minister Mike Nahan said five solar-powered energy systems utilising battery storage and backup diesel generators were being developed to operate as standalone systems for four customers of Horizon Power, the regional and rural state-owned electricity provider.

The Esperance bushfires destroyed more than 320 power poles and hundreds of kilometres of powerlines, resulting in a mammoth redevelopment effort, which restored power to more than 400 customers within 10 days of the fires.

Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor said it made sense to use a more innovative power system in the area that was susceptible to bad weather and other causes of power interruptions.

“We identified that instead of rebuilding this part of the network ... we could offer these customers a dedicated renewable energy power system which is not connected to the grid,” he said.

Mr Tudor said the four customers who would use the new power supplies were pioneers.

Rodney Locke, a farmer in Cape Le Grande, east of Esperance, said he was delighted to be one of the first Horizon Power customers to receive a standalone power system.

“I saw it as an opportunity to have something more than we ever hoped for,” Mr Locke said.

“A reliable, clean energy source which will deliver even better service than we had in the past.”

Mr Tudor said the new power systems would be owned and operated by Horizon and the customers would pay the same cost for their electricity as they did previously for power that had been supplied by the grid’s poles and wires network.

“While the units won’t be connected to the network, customers will receive the same service standards as those who are – including being able to call and rely on Horizon Power to respond to any unplanned power interruptions,” he said.

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