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Collaborating with businesses to secure energy supply in the Goldfields

Western Power has signed Norton Gold Fields as its first customer to its innovative scheme aimed at helping large business in the Goldfields region secure power supply requirements.

The Eastern Goldfields Load Permissive Scheme (ELPS), developed by Western Power following an industry forum held in the region in May 2019, provides an alternative energy supply from more efficiently using the existing network capacity available in the Goldfields.

The scheme effectively releases power supply to participating customers when it’s available and retracts it when it becomes scarce. It’s mostly autonomous and managed by Western Power’s Network Control Centre.

Norton Gold Fields, the first company to sign up to the scheme, has three of its sites scheduled to be up and running by May 2021.

Western Power CEO Ed Kalajzic said the scheme demonstrated Western Power’s innovative thinking by providing an option for larger businesses to access power supply that ordinarily would not be available through traditional network solutions.

“As the standard service we provide is at its limit in the region, we have developed an alternative that can release power supply when it’s available, which studies have shown to be the vast majority of time.”

“While the chance of having a power outage while connected to the scheme is moderately higher than for a customer who is connected via our usual service, our large industry customers tell us the opportunity for any additional power supply is of great value to their operations.”

Businesses will have some upfront connection costs, however potential for future savings is attractive, often removing the need for expensive diesel or alternative generation.

Norton Gold Fields Commercial Manager Denis Otway said the ELPS would provide additional power required for expansions to Norton’s Kalgoorlie based operations that were connected to the SWIS.

“Access to additional power has for many years been an issue for new or expanding projects in the Goldfields. Although the nature of this scheme means the supply will be interruptible, we welcome Western Power’s continued investment in upgrading power infrastructure in the region,” Mr Otway said.

“Any alternatives to using diesel to generate power for mining operations are worth pursuing and the ELPS is a clever way of better utilising the existing Western Power infrastructure in the region.”

To enable the scheme, Western Power upgraded its network infrastructure in the region including constructing an 80-metre communications tower out of the Black Flag substation, multiple communication site upgrades and refurbishing substation transformers.

“Through the innovative management of our electricity network and collaboration with our customers, we’re working to support further development in the Goldfields region for the community’s benefit,” Mr Kalajzic said.