Base Power Business Manager Jayson Vinsen hopes the loan of standalone power system equipment to towns impacted by Australia’s bushfires can in a “small way” help get the communities back on their feet.
Base Power, the New Zealand-made standalone power system (SAPS), is providing about $1.3 million worth of powerful energy storage units, back-up generators and solar panels that harness the renewable energy of the sun, to areas of Australia’s New South Wales most affected by the devastating fires.
“We looked at what was happening over there and how it has affected so many people, and thought we could help in a small way get these towns and communities reconnected and moving towards recovery,” Mr Vinsen says.
“Just being able to turn on a light, or have hot water are things we all take for granted. So hopefully our contribution can make a bit of a difference.”
He says Base Power units will be going into areas that have been without electricity for quite some time.
“And, with the extent of the fire damage to the poles and lines, they would have been without power for some time yet.”
Essential Energy, which looks after the poles and wires that deliver electricity to 95% of New South Wales and parts of southern Queensland, are receiving up to 10 Base Power SAPS.
“We’ve been busy retrofitting the Base Power units with extra installation to suit the Australian conditions and communication capabilities which will enable Essential staff to receive texts on diesel levels,” Mr Vinsen says.
“We’ll also be monitoring the levels of diesel in the back-up generator to make sure there’s always enough to keep the power on should there be prolonged spells of low light coming into the solar panels.”
The extent of the damage to the Essential Energy network from bushfires is unprecedented, with parts of the network completely destroyed. The company says the rebuilding process will be complicated and time consuming given the challenging geography and remoteness of some parts of the network.
Essential Energy’s General Manager Customer and Network Services, Luke Jenner, said the damage to the network was significant.
“The fires that tore through the South East of NSW destroyed large sections of our electricity network. More than 2,100 power poles require replacing, with 37,000 customers impacted by power outages at the height of the New Year’s Eve fires.
“Work has been slow as safe access to some areas was not available for weeks due to active fires and the need to clear vegetation and other hazards to reach the network.
“The standalone power systems from Base Power will be used in small numbers to see how they compare with diesel generators for speed and ease of deployment to supply power to customers on the fringe of our network across the fire affected area, specifically those customers where we know they will be without power for three or so more weeks as crews continue to make repairs,” Mr Jenner said.
“These units are part of a number of options Essential Energy is considering to make our network more resilient to natural disasters like bushfires, while lowering costs to our customer base overall.”
The energy networks will cover the costs of retrofitting and installing Base Power. Designed by New Zealand’s second largest electricity utility, Powerco, Base Power has been developed and tested by skilled research and development engineers and proven to offer a reliable and safe power supply.