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Western Power is preparing for record high peak electricity demand in the Perth metro area following a declared heatwave by the Department of Health from this evening, the second heatwave event in four weeks.

Last night the network experienced a record evening peak demand of 4195MW across the South West Interconnected System and it is anticipated that will rise over the coming days as we see consistently high temperatures during the day and continuing into the evening.

During the last two years we have experienced five days of high demand exceeding 4000MW; 4 February 2020, 8 January and 12 December 2021, and 26 December and 27 December 2021. These can be attributed to very warm temperatures over consecutive days.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the average temperature in Perth for the month of January so far is 31.2 degrees Celsius, slightly higher than observed during the same time period in previous years. However, with the forecast temperatures for the rest of this week and changing climate patterns, that is expected to climb.

Western Power Executive Manager for Asset Management Gair Landsborough said the business had put proactive plans in place to manage the increase in demand across Western Power’s network due to forecast heatwave conditions.

“We’ve cancelled planned works where necessary, dependant on the temperatures and number of customers impacted. We’ve also stood up additional customer support staff, network controllers and ensured all available fault and repair crews are on standby.”

As always, community safety is our number one priority and - even in the metro area - we need to be mindful of re-energising around vegetation 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. So high fire weather conditions mean we’re restricted in our ability to locate faults and restore power to reduce bushfire risk.

“The record demand over the festive period provided us with vital new data and we’re using it to upgrade our equipment, reconfigure system settings to allow for extra flexibility in areas of unprecedented high demand,” he said. “We have done some of this work, but it will take time to complete.”

“Our infrastructure has built-in controls which protect the network 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.”

In the event of a heatwave, we encourage people to set their air-conditioner temperature at 24 degrees to avoid overworking their air-conditioner and contributing to the high demand.

If customers are experiencing an outage, please:

  • Leave a light on inside your house so you know when power is restored.
  • Ensure you have sufficient water supplies available, including for pets and livestock.
  • Have an emergency kit ready containing a waterproof torch, first-aid kit, non-perishable food, water, required medication and a radio (battery-powered) with spare batteries.
  • Switch off air conditioners so they are off when power is restored.
  • Minimise opening and closing your fridge or freezer.
  • Consider using ice to keep your perishables cool.
  • Use a fridge thermometer so you know if food is still safe to consume after a power outage.
  • Keep useful phone numbers on hand, such as the SES and your electricity provider.
  • Unplug ‘surge-sensitive’ equipment such as computers and TVs to avoid potential damage.
  • Keep across the news and emergency updates (on your mobile phone or radio).

For more information, prepare for an extended power outage.

Mr Landsborough said Western Power is committed to ensuring the network meets the growing and changing energy demands of the community now and in the future. 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 for the next generation.

“To ensure we continue to prove a quality service to our customers, we have management plans in place for peak and low demand days, both of which are now occurring more often than in the past due to the rapid uptake of renewables, particularly rooftop solar and a warming changing climate.”

We urge people to stay eight metres away from any fallen power lines or other damage to the network and report it to us on 13 13 51 so that emergency response crews can attend the hazard to make the area safe. Stay up to date by visiting our outage page.

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