Collie Power Station shutdown highlights need for compensation payment reform

The news that the Collie Power Station would be closed from mid-September to January 2023 brings serious concerns for power supply to WA’s electrical grid system, said WA Liberal Leader and Shadow Energy Minister, Dr David Honey MLA.

As revealed by WAToday, the station, which supplies 7 per cent of power to WA’s electrical grid, could mean power reliability will be at even more risk than last year.

The financial difficulties being experienced by Griffin coal mine which supplies the Bluewaters power station are a further concern. Bluewaters accounts for around 9% of the State’s electricity supply and any disruption to their coal supply from Griffin would reduce available supply well below AEMO’s Reserve Capacity Target (RCT). The RCT is calculated to guarantee reliable power supplies over the summer period.

Dr Honey said the 2021 Christmas outages occurred when the Collie power station was available. The shutdown of Collie Power Station risks a repeat of the Blackouts we saw last Christmas.

“Last year we saw tens of thousands of Western Australians lose power, many for days on end with the grid system fully operational. The shutdown of the Collie Power Station increases this risk.”

Dr Honey also said Bill Johnston, who is not only the Minister for Energy but the Minister for Mines, should have had contingencies in place for a coal shortage.

“We know that coal-fired power generation makes up nearly 50 per cent of the electricity supply to WA, so to have a shortage of coal approaching WA’s hot summer demonstrates a lack of preparation by Minister Johnston.

Dr Honey also called on the McGowan Government to review Western Power’s compensation policy for those affected by outages.

“The compensation policy for power outages needs to be reviewed to compensate those who experience outages due to power grid failures.

“It is the Government’s responsibility to provide reliable power. It is also their responsibility to properly compensate families and businesses who suffer financially from power supply outages.

“The current $120 payment for those who experience 12 hours plus outages is simply insufficient when you consider larger families and businesses that lose thousands in refrigerated stock and medicines.

“In May this year, many businesses in Kalgoorlie were without power for days, with reports of some businesses losing over $10,000 of produce due to the power outages.

“A blanket compensation payment of $120 is inadequate in many cases. A reliable power supply is the job of the State Government. Western Australians shouldn’t be suffering financially for their failures,” said Dr Honey.