Based on the data provided by Energy Matters, a national energy provider, the price of electricity has increased by a considerable 72% since 2004. The company claimed that much of this can be traced to the increasing costs of network charges. These chargers refer to the distribution network or the electricity infrastructure of the grid. The increase is due in part to the need to cope with the extra load required by air-conditioners which normally spikes up during the summer months.
It appears that the price of electricity will keep on increasing in Western Australia. The poles and wires that drive the price of electricity upwards in the past years are the main culprits. And these expenses are being charged to the consumers who are already burdened with high electricity costs.
This can be seen in Western Power’s 5 year maintenance plan. Its costs and time projection for wood and pole network is more on the optimistic side. Western Power estimated the network cost to be around $1.35 billion.
A PDF report from the office of the Western Australia’s Auditor General indicates that it will take until 2012 to restore the network to a stable maintenance cycle. But it will cost Western Power an additional $1 billion to do it.
At present, an estimated 660,000 wooden poles are being maintained by Western Power. Replacing a single pole will cost the company around $6,500 to $7,500 a-piece. The actual cost will depend on the where the pole is located and the ease or difficulty of installing it. Replacing a pole is costing the company five times more than reinforcing it. This is the reason why there are still numerous old poles standing up because they are still able to carry the load.
Glen Clarke, acting Auditor General claims that “decades of under investment in the wood pole network” is the primary cause of the increases in electricity prices. In other words, they are admitting that the poles that they have installed at the start are not up to standards. He added that it will take a long process to bring back the network to a safe, reliable and economical point. And the cost of this scheme is being thrown to the already over-burdened consumers.
It was in 2010 that Martin Ferguson, the Federal Minister for Resources and Energy warned that Australia need to spend at least $100 billion in electricity infrastructure for the next decade. The Australian government should have heeded his warning then. Perhaps it’s about time to think about solar power as well because it is a renewable source of energy, it is absolutely clean and it costs less in the long haul.
According to WA Solar quotes, the cost of solar power may be initially high but its long term maintenance is nowhere near the cost of today’s wire and pole networks. In order to save costs, Western Australia may do well to heed the figures given by WA solar quotes.