Rural supply allocation - update from Western Power

Western Power has provided the following update on the rural supply allocation that has been negatively impacting member businesses and consumers in rural areas since the beginning of the year.

NECA does not view this as an acceptable response to this serious situation. It does not address the practical problems that rural users are experiencing as the result of Western Power’s decision to implement circuit breakers as a means of load limitation. Nor does it provide any clarification as to how or if 20 amps for 480-volt supplies will be reviewed.

We will continue to advocate for members, including making submissions directly to the Minister regarding this issue and provide an update as soon as possible.

Western Power rural supply allocation review underway

With around 2.3 million customers, that is 1.1 million connections, Western Power manages the grid effectively and efficiently by ensuring each connection can individually draw up to their agreed supply allocation. 

As part of their commitment to delivering the best possible power supply to the community, Western Power is reviewing the regional and rural standard supply allocations of 32 Amp for single phase (240V) connections to ensure they are fit for purpose. 

Western Power is working closely with electrical contractor industry bodies and solar installers to assess alternative options, with the aim of providing an update by the end of the year.

The review follows the updating of technical manuals, standards and guidelines associated with both traditional and renewable energy connections, which was essential with the community’s drive towards decarbonisation. 

In August 2021 the Western Australian Service and Installations Requirements (WASIR) was updated to ensure the safe management of the network and to align with the evolving renewable energy market and state/national compliance frameworks, as well as Australian Standards. The changes made support and facilitate the growth of renewable energy and distributed energy resources - such as rooftop solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, and electric vehicle chargers.

The WASIR update introduced new connection requirements for alterations to connection arrangements and increases to usage, including the need for the main switch to be a circuit breaker, a device designed to provide overload protection for a household if connection service capacity is exceeded and to prevent tripping of upstream network protection.

As before, electrical contractors have an obligation, when adding new circuits (i.e. additional load, electric vehicle charging, solar systems, air-conditioning, new electric stoves), to assess demand requirements for households in line with network connection service requirements and apply for upgrades if they are likely to be exceeded.

Households are responsible for managing their total electrical load and should seek electrical contractor advice when adding or replacing larger appliances and equipment to ensure they have the required service connection capacity.

Households can apply via Western Power’s website to increase their supply allocation at a cost. Alternatively, they can authorise their electrician to apply on their behalf.

Western Power manages, maintains and plans the electricity grid to accommodate the energy needs of West Australians, in line with its obligations under legislation and standards such as the WASIR. Western Power is supporting the decarbonisation efforts of West Australians by modernising the grid and responding to the needs of customers.

More information can be found here.