Mid West solar company hits back against Western Power regulation to halve rural power supply

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
Concerns have been raised over limits on solar power in regional areas.
Camera IconConcerns have been raised over limits on solar power in regional areas. Credit: Regis Martin/Getty Images/EyeEm

A renewable energy company in Geraldton has spoken out against Western Power’s decision to halve the power supply for rural regions.

Sun City Solar owner Scott Phillips said Western Power had recently introduced regulations forcing solar companies to install current limiting circuit breakers to replace the normal supply main switches.

“In most situations, this results in halving the capacity of rural people’s power supply connection.”

“This new rule is aimed at the solar industry and not the whole electrical industry, as it is not enforced on the rest of the industry,” Phillips said.

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Under the new regulations solar companies are forced to fit a 20 amp circuit breaker.

Mr Phillips said the change meant if a standard toaster and electric kettle were switched on at the same time the main switch would trip, leaving the customer without power.

“This significantly reduces the amount and size that rural properties can install solar power,” he said.

A Western Power spokesperson said the rural supply allocation reflected the development of the network and capabilities of existing infrastructure.

“Exceeding supply allocations can overload local transformers, which may result in lengthy outages for repair,” the spokesperson said.

“We are aware of concerns raised by the electrical industry on the adequacy of the standard regional and rural supply allocation as customer energy needs change.

“In response, (we are) reviewing and assessing the opportunities, risks and consequences of alternative options and will provide an update to stakeholders by the end of the year.”

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the regional power network was once again preventing regional West Australians from accessing the same level of opportunity as those in the city.

“Regional WA, particularly to the north, is ideally placed to take advantage of renewable energy and it is a shame that we cannot make the most of that opportunity due to network constraints,” Mr Van Styn said.

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