Western Power is a Western Australian State Government owned corporation with the purpose of connecting people with electricity in a way that is safe, reliable and affordable. We build, maintain and operate the electricity network in the south west corner of Western Australia. Western Power is governed by an independent Board and reports to the Western Australian Minister for Energy as the ownera€™s representative. We operate depots and offices throughout the SWIS region including our head office in Wellington Street, Perth. Even though the price paid by electricity consumers has risen significantly since 2009, this price is still well below the cost of supply.
As the only electricity transmission and distribution utility within our region, Western Power is a natural monopoly. In 2015 the Minister for Energy announced an energy market review to reform the industry in order to improve customer experience and reduce costs. Last week, we published an article showing why the cost of solar is probably 2–100 times cheaper than you think.
One more thing to note is that residential solar energy installations actually increased from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013! The growth should get stronger as the year goes on, and solar energy is actually projected to be the #2 source of new US power capacity in 2013. But even in the case of solar energy being produced for sale to the utility (for sale as wholesale electricity rather than for use as retail electricity), it benefits from one key financial advantage — the electricity is created at the time of peak power demand, which makes it worth much, much more.
Companies that sell solar electricity generators operate in the overall electricity generation market. This difference is particularly pronounced in developing countries with significant economic growth.
Of all fuels, the renewables however will grow faster, albeit from a lower base level of course.
Among renewables, hydro is the pre-dominant source, and will be so for at least the next 30 years. On the other hand, wind energy has matured and will see significant growth in the foreseeable future while the use of geothermal energy will only grow little. The absolute size of the solar electricity market as of 2009 is still tiny, generating around 0.1% of electricity globally.
As a result, demand for electricity in non- OECD countries will surpass the cumulative electricity demand in OECD countries before 2015.
To meet the growing demand for electricity, money has to be spent on new installations, refurbishment of existing capacity, transmission (high voltage from power stations to the grid) and distribution (low voltage delivery to consumer). As man power plants will have to be replaced in the near future due to their age, more capacity has to be built than just matching the growth in demand.
The IAEA estimates investment into new electricity generating capacity to be $4,000bn over 30 years from 2001. Wind is the fastest growing segment in the electricity generation market with growth of over 10% annully.


Growth is more pronounced outside OECD countries, although growth in renewables other than hydro remains strong in OECD countries as well. The Western Power Network forms the vast majority of the South West Interconnected Network (SWIN), which together with all of the electricity generators, comprises the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
Unlike all other major urban areas of Australia which are covered by a series of interconnected networks known as the National Electricity Market (NEM), the SWIN is an isolated, self-contained network.
The full cost to supply electricity to consumers within the SWIS is made up of a number of different elements including generation, transmission, distribution and retail. In place of competition to bring about economic efficiency, the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) currently oversees our economic performance.
One decision made is to move from state-based to national regulation under the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). With so many people thinking that solar energy costs much more than it actually does, one would think that no one is going solar, right? Companies like Walmart, IKEA, Google, Apple, Walgreens, Kohl’s, and many others have discovered that going solar is cheaper than relying on utilities for 100% of their electricity.
Due to various tax and policy factors, Q4 is always the strongest quarter of the year and Q1 is always the weakest.
Yep, that means more solar energy capacity would be added than coal power capacity, nuclear power capacity, wind power capacity, hydro power capacity, or anything else… except for natural gas power capacity, which is projected to be #1. The bottom line is that the advantages of solar energy increasingly outweigh the advantages of competing electricity technologies.
There are certainly more noble reasons for going solar (see below), but one of the advantages of solar energy most driving solar growth is clearly the financial advantage.
For one, it’s simply good to cut your dependency on big corporations and semi-monopolies.
By going solar, you will cut one of your three main contributors to global warming pollution. Helping to save the environment is cool and new technology is cool, so solar energy is very cool. Stay up to date on the latest news, ask questions, or just see what others interested in solar energy are saying. Interestingly, the demand for electricity has grown faster than overall energy consumption, which in itself has grown faster than the world population. Nevertheless, even in developed countries the per-head demand for electricity is expected to rise despite anticipated energy efficiency savings.
We have selected the EIA figures, because they seem to be the most conservative figures as far as renewables are concerned. Only five nations get their energy from renewable sources, one of them geothermal, the other four from hydro.
While anticipated growth in OECD countries will be limited to 1,2% per annum, the annual growth in non- OECD countries is expected to run at 3.6%.
In a very crude approximation, the annual size of the market is $136bn (in US dollars 2000- base).


This means that the electricity needs of consumers within the SWIS must at all times be delivered by the SWIS itself without any outside support or back up. Consumers pay only a proportion of this cost with the balance provided as a subsidy by the State Government.
The basis for this oversight is the Access Arrangement which is our regulatory contract agreed with the ERA for a given period. Western Power is currently preparing its first regulatory submission to the AER for the four year period commencing 1 July 2018.
Well, with the advantages of solar energy starting to get out there more, and with the cost of going solar beating the heck out of the price of electricity in an increasing number of places, solar energy is growing fast in the US. The advantages of solar energy just keep growing and growing, and more and more people are waking up to its benefits. However, due to losses in the distribution of electricity, more electricity has to be generated than will be consumed. For sure, this is just the beginning, but have a look at these solar energy growth charts below for a quick look at recent trends, followed by more on the advantages of solar energy. Even despite this, Q1 2013 was the 4th best quarter for US solar energy installations ever.
This growth trend is projected to continue for years to come as more and more people and businesses realize that they can save massive money by going solar.
As a result, the cost of solar has dropped below the cost of retail electricity in many places.
Much of our electricity today is produced from baseload power plans (coal and nuclear power plants) that take a long time to start up or shut down. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels use over 20 times less water per kWh of electricity than nuclear power plants and over 16 times less water than coal power plants.
We have many old power plants that need to retire, and new power plants and infrastructure cost a lot more than old ones. California, Colorado, Texas, and the entire Southwest) face increasingly severe water shortage threats. Demand starts to rise in the morning when people wake up, and in many places it peaks in the middle of the day (especially hot days where electricity-sucking air conditioners are heavily used) and in the early evening. The cost of electricity from these power plants is much higher, partly because of how the wholesale electricity bidding system is organized. But one key point here is that solar energy systems don’t have any fuel costs (sunshine is free), so they can underbid any other source of power (well, except perhaps some other renewables like wind power, which also have no fuel costs).



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