Home

$4.6 million power upgrade in blackout-plagued Perenjori nears completion

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenCountryman
A $4.6 million upgrade to the Western Power network in Perenjori, in WA's Mid West, is about 70 per cent complete.
Camera IconA $4.6 million upgrade to the Western Power network in Perenjori, in WA's Mid West, is about 70 per cent complete. Credit: Supplied/Western Power

Locals in blackout-plagued Perenjori are hoping for a more comfortable summer this year, with a $4.6 million upgrade to the town’s Western Power network now about 70 per cent complete.

The works, which began in July, include upgrades to overhead powerlines and poles, and the installation of new LED streetlights throughout the town — both of which are nearing completion.

An underground cable is also being installed through the heart of the town along Fowler Street, while an extension of the microgrid to the Perenjori Roadhouse and several properties on Fowler Street was recently completed.

A Western Power spokeswoman told Countryman the extension to the microgrid — installed on the outskirts of Perenjori in 2017 and powered by a 1MWh network battery — would serve as a backup in the event of an outage on the main feeder line.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.

READ NOW

“This will mean the community can access key services from the roadhouse when the microgrid is in operation, in the event of an outage,” she said.

“We anticipate all upgrade works will be completed and energised by early 2023.”

Western Power's Battery Energy Storage System microgrid on the outskirts of Perenjori.
Camera IconWestern Power's Battery Energy Storage System microgrid on the outskirts of Perenjori. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

The spokeswoman said the project was 70 per cent complete, with works paused during the wildflower season as the town experienced an influx of tourists.

The upgrades were announced in June after ongoing power outages caused major headaches for farmers across the Mid West last summer, in a major escalation of a decades old problem.

Perenjori copped two particularly lengthy blackouts in early December, forcing the closure of the local CBH bin for two days in the middle of a record harvest, and leaving residents sweltering in 40C-plus conditions.

Perenjori Shire president and local farmer Chris King — who had called for a permanent solution — said the situation had improved dramatically since the upgrades began.

“The power outages have certainly been much reduced. . . so that’s been a lot better,” he said.

“With the power poles off the street, it’ll look a hell of a lot better. . . and we won’t have the blackouts caused by birds or tree branches falling across wires.

“It’s pretty damn good — they’ve spent a lot of time and money on the project.”

Shire of Perenjori president Chris King with a power pole broken by cyclone Seroja.
Camera IconShire of Perenjori president Chris King with a power pole broken by cyclone Seroja. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

While the upgrades will only directly benefit the town, Mr King said it was a step in the right direction.

He hoped Western Power would soon focus on repairing the many powerlines between Three Springs, Morawa and Perenjori that were damaged by Cyclone Seroja in April last year.

Power lines also remain downed on farms across the region, including Mr King’s.

“Obviously, we’re still hopeful they’ll continue investing in the poles that go from Three Springs to Morawa and then Morawa to Perenjori, but the upgrades have been really good,” he said.

“The power pole situation outside on farms has been delayed until after harvest, which is a good thing.

“I don’t think many people would have been all that thrilled if Western Power had been walking or driving around their crops.”

Western Power asset operations executive manager Zane Christmas said the upgrades would “improve and modernise” the town’s electricity network.

“The undergrounding of poles and wire, and installation of new decorative streetlight poles not only revitalises the visual appeal of the town’s main street it also reduces power use from lighting and provides additional safety against weather events,” he said.

“We’re confident the Perenjori community will be pleased with the improvement of power quality and reliability within the townsite as a result of these upgrades.”

Wooden poles replaced during the works will be used as bollards and landscaping within the town.

Western Power said the contractor carrying out the works, WA company Powerlines Plus, had made $1500 donations to Carnamah Perenjori Junior Football Club, Perenjori Junior Cricket Club and Perenjori PCYC.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails