Yesterdays announcement by WA Minister for Energy The Hon Mike Nahan MLA brought high fives, big smiles and a dinnertime toast to our household last night. (https://au.gwn7.yahoo.com/w2/news/a/-/local/31297568/a-significant-shake-up-to-the-electricity-industry-video/ )
Because the WA State Government will soon be commencing the shut-down of some coal fired power stations in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) electricity grid. Supply is simply exceeding demand, and has done so for a number of years now. (See the media release at https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Barnett/2016/04/Electricity-reforms-ensure-fairer-system-for-all.aspx )
Obviously this is exciting news environmentally – less coal will be burned, and the percentage of coal-based electricity in our grid will reduce. I’ve today requested some information from the Ministers Office about what this will save in carbon emissions – will let you know when we get the answer!
It’s exciting news economically, as the money currently being spent on keeping ‘standby’ power stations operating, and producing electricity that isn’t getting used, will be saved and reflected in reduced power bills.
But what’s really exciting to me is that it shows how the actions of individuals can make a difference on a huge scale.
There are two reasons that supply is exceeding demand.
Firstly, the States economic downturn means less power demand.
But the other reason – the one that triggered this shift from under to oversupply about 5 years ago – is domestic roof-top solar power. One in five WA homes now has solar, meeting some or all of their energy needs. It’s calculated that roof-top solar is producing the equivalent of 100,000 homes worth of power, which the coal system no longer needs to produce. Check out http://www.morepowertoyou.wa.gov.au/ for a great infographic about this change in demand.
If ordinary families hadn’t made the switch in their own homes, we wouldn’t be seeing this landmark policy shift today.
Congratulations to everyone who contributed!
Author: Ella Maesepp
Since 2003, Ella has been Ella is a keen advocate of the important role of individuals in tackling climate change and environmental degradation. She runs Katanning Eco-House, a domestic sustainability business based around her own family home and is also a Climate Media Centre Spokesperson, where she provides professional insight into a wide range of environmental topics.