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Community Energy Program Announced by the Western Australian Government: Hardship Customers to receive free Electricity

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The Western Australian government, in collaboration with state-owned energy retailer Synergy, has devised an innovative plan to offer a free Community Energy Program to customers facing financial difficulties. A significant portion of this electricity will be sourced from surplus solar energy generated by the state’s rooftops.

Addressing Energy Affordability Challenges

In an effort to alleviate the financial burden on struggling households, the Labor-led Cook government of Western Australia recently unveiled the Community Energy program. This initiative aims to assist families facing hardship by enabling them to save up to $500 per year on their energy expenses.

community energy

Leveraging Rooftop Solar Energy

The Community Energy program primarily focuses on providing free electricity to eligible households during the off-peak hours of 9am to 3pm. During this period, the abundance of rooftop solar resources in Western Australia ensures that energy demand remains low and prices remain affordable.

Battling the “Solar Duck” Curve

Similar to South Australia and other regions with a high concentration of solar installations, Western Australia experiences a unique energy consumption pattern referred to as the “solar duck” curve. This phenomenon is characterized by a significant drop in grid demand during the midday period, followed by a rapid increase in the late afternoon as the sun sets.

To combat the challenges posed by the solar duck curve, Western Australia has implemented various measures. These include the establishment of home battery-based virtual power plants and the construction of a massive 219MW, four-hour (877MWh) big battery near the coal town of Collie.

The 'Duck Curve' for the SWIS, created with 2020 data from AMO
The 'Duck Curve' for the SWIS, created with 2020 data from AMO

Incentivizing Off-Peak Power Usage

Encouraging the utilization of electricity during off-peak periods presents a potential solution to address the solar duck curve. The Community Energy program aims to assist families in need by providing them with ten units of zero-cost electricity during off-peak hours, equivalent to approximately three-quarters of an average household’s daily consumption.

By maximizing the program’s benefits, participants can potentially save between $200 and $500 annually. Moreover, eligible hardship customers can also take advantage of the state government’s Household Electricity Credit, which provides savings of up to $826 per year.

Additional Support Measures

In addition to the Community Energy program, the Cook government has announced further measures to support households. A $200 credit will be applied to all household power bills, and an additional $200 credit will be provided during the November-December billing cycle. Further support measures are included in the Energy Policy WA.

Roger Cook, Western Australia’s premier, expressed his commitment to assisting families in need, stating, “We are always looking for ways to help Western Australian families who are doing it tough and provide additional support to those who need it most. This new program will save potentially hundreds of dollars for thousands of Western Australians who might be struggling to pay their electricity bills.”

Despite the current global challenges such as inflationary pressures, supply chain shortages, and higher interest rates, the government remains optimistic that the situation will improve over time. Thanks to the state’s robust economy and responsible budget management, Western Australia can continue to offer crucial support to those in need.

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