With summer in full swing, we’re experiencing more heatwave events than usual. Multiple days of high temperatures can have a major effect on how an electricity network operates.
The extremely high electricity demand experienced on hot weather days between 5-9pm, when people return home from work and air-conditioners and other household appliances are turned on, can put pressure on the grid meaning some areas may experience unplanned outages. The network has built-in protection controls in the event of an overload in demand – for example, a fuse may drop out to protect and ensure vital pieces of infrastructure are not damaged.
Our crews are working hard throughout these extreme weather events to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. However, there are some things we can all do to help the network and potentially avoid these unplanned outages altogether.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Set your air-conditioner to 24 degrees and let your house cool slowly
- Use a timer for your cooling devices, and once the room is a suitable temperature, please switch off
- Help to keep your home cool during the day by closing windows and blinds/curtains
- If there’s a cooler sea breeze, open the windows and let your home cool naturally
- Use your gas BBQ or eat outdoors
- If you need to use high energy consuming appliances (e.g. pool pump, bore pump, dishwasher, washing machine) set the timer for it to run in the middle of the day if you can
- Limit your use of high energy consuming appliances such as those above, plus oven, kettle, microwave where you can
- If you’re home, charge phones, laptops and other equipment during the day and unplug during the evening peak period
- If you can, turn off any non-essential appliances.
These steps may seem minor and can cause inconvenience, however collectively we can all make a difference in maintaining power stability during times of high demand. These measures alongside the work and projects we have underway to transform the grid gives us the best chance of avoiding outages.
What is peak demand?
Why reducing peak demand is a good idea?
What does Western Power do to manage peak demand?
Are there long-term plans to fix this issue, given the climate is changing?
Why do the hot overnight temperatures make a difference?
Peak demand refers to the times of day when our electricity consumption is at its highest.
Annual peak demand occurs in summer during prolonged heat waves, usually between 4pm and 8pm when most people arrive home and switch on their air conditioners, TVs, lights and other household appliances. Air conditioner use amounts to nearly one third of the power consumed on the hottest days in January, February and March.
The peak demand during winter occurs on very cold weekday evenings when people heat their homes. Winter peak demand is slightly lower than summer peak demand, but has a significant... Read more
Saving electricity during the peak demand period is beneficial to the community and the electricity system.
Supplying electricity for an ever increasing peak demand requires building more electricity infrastructure such as generators and higher capacity powerlines. Ultimately customers pay to build this infrastructure through increases in the price of power even though much of it goes unused for the remainder of the year.
On very hot weekdays the community can help reduce peak demand by limiting use of major appliances between 4pm and 8pm.
In the event of multiple days of high demand, we proactively manage this through several means. We cancel planned works where necessary, dependant on the temperatures and number of customers impacted and we stand-up additional customer support staff, network controllers and ensure all available fault and repair crews are ready.
Community safety is our number one priority. We're mindful of re-energising around vegetation to mitigate bushfire risk as our network infrastructure traverses a lot of urban bushland and parks. Work in one area of the network can still cause a spark some distance away. ... Read more
In the long term, we're planning the modular grid of the future that's leading the way to a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply.
A number of projects are under way
to facilitate greater levels of low-cost, low-emissions renewable generation overall, while managing the effects on the power system (particularly from rooftop solar panels). These projects will enable us to add more renewables while keeping the power system running smoothly.
When the temperature remains high into the evening, it doesn’t give the infrastructure a chance to cool down physically, plus customer demand remains high.