Power station shelved as demand drops
Power station shelved as demand drops

Plummeting demand for electricity has pushed back the need for a new major power station for Perth and the South West until next decade, the head of the newly merged Synergy has revealed.

Synergy chief executive Jason Waters said that under the latest revision of the South West grid's "road map", a base-load power station was not expected to be required until as late as 2023.

The comments from the boss of the State-owned utility, the dominant electricity generator and retailer in the South West network, reinforces the view of many observers that there is excess supply in the market.

Power bosses are grappling with the issue of over-capacity, which has been caused by falling demand on the back of rocketing prices, unrealised demand from major projects not coming on stream, more efficient appliances and rampant demand for rooftop solar panels.

The State Government has estimated there is currently about 900MW of excess capacity in the South West grid, costing energy consumers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Mr Waters, the head of generator Verve before becoming boss of the merged Synergy, said the situation had seen a significant "slippage" in planning for a new coal or gas-fired power station.

"We have seen a substantial shift in what we see as the asset investment pathway or road map," Mr Waters said.

"There was a period only three or four years ago during which we saw the need for a new base-load power station on the system for around 2017-18. By base-load I mean a big 300MW or 400MW coal or gas-fired plant that is built to run all the time.

"The latest indications based on the current load forecast for the system is the planned date has been moved out to 2022-23.

"There has been a six-year slippage or stretching of the road map on the basis of reduced demand and on other things."

Mr Waters noted the lag in the need for a new power station came despite the impending retirement of Kwinana C, the 400MW power station that is due to be closed next year.

The market would return closer to balance "within a year of so" of the closure of Kwinana C, when excess capacity was soaked up.

The West Australian

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