The final solar-powered off-grid power system has been installed by Horizon Power in Esperance (WA) as part of restoration works following bushfires in the region in November 2015.

The stand-alone power systems consist of solar panels and batteries, backed up by diesel generation.

Five systems have been installed, the last one belonging to Cape Le Grand farmers John and Val Locke who lost powerlines and poles on their property during the fires.

Energy Minister Mike Nahan said four customers across five properties had taken up the opportunity to partner with Horizon Power in the WA-first project after more than 320 power poles and hundreds of kilometres of powerlines were destroyed in the bushfires.

“I commend Horizon Power for identifying that we could offer these customers a solar-powered, stand-alone power system, which incorporates battery technology and is not connected to the grid,” Mr Nahan said.

“This is a WA-first project offering an innovative solution for customers instead of rebuilding this part of the network, which is more susceptible to adverse weather and other causes of power interruptions.

“These customers – including the Lockes – are pioneers of these new systems, which will be owned and operated by Horizon Power. The customers will pay the same cost for their electricity supplied by these units as they did previously for power supplied by poles and wires.

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

Mr Nahan said Horizon Power was working to identify other potential sites where stand-alone power systems could be a viable alternative to connecting to, or maintaining or replacing, the overhead network across its service area.

Jessica Dickers

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