Cook Government fails to learn power backup lessons from 2022 

Jan 18, 2024 | State News, Steve Thomas MLC

A more than 17-hour power blackout in Kalgoorlie proves the Labor Government has done nothing to improve energy security to the vital regional centre since the blackouts of February 2022, according to Shadow Energy Minister Steve Thomas.

“In 2022 power outages had significant impacts on Kalgoorlie residents and hit local businesses directly in the hip pocket,” Dr Thomas said.
“At the time, former energy Minister Bill Johnston said: ‘We would love to see more investment into generators in the Goldfields’.

“Two years on, and in the middle of the biggest fiscal boom in our state’s history, the lessons that should have been learnt appear to have been completely lost on this Labor Government.

“Kalgoorlie is a major regional city and has backup generators in case of system-wide failure, but once again that backup has failed.

“As recently as November 2023, Western Power announced it was doing maintenance work on the Kalgoorlie backup generators, which should have seen the current failure managed far better.”

According to the Western Power release at the time “The generation can be used as a backup power supply for unplanned outages on Western Power’s 220kV network.”

Dr Thomas said the current power outage in the City of Kalgoorlie, which was at the time 17 hours, was symptom of a broader failure of state energy policy.

Liberal member for Mining and Pastoral Neil Thomson said the blackout was another blow to businesses in the city which were already reeling from increases in antisocial behaviour and were feeling betrayed by the WA Government.

“More needs to be done to ensure backup power is available with a simple flick of a switch, even if that means relying on the private sector, such as the Parkeston facility which provides power to mine sites in the area,” Mr Thomson said.

Mr Thomson said Western Power had not been able to say when power would be reconnected.

The latest communication from Western power saying, “Western Power were able to temporarily restore power to around 10,000 customers in Kalgoorlie townsite last night through gas turbine power station located near West Kalgoorlie Terminal however some issues with the turbine meant customers in Kalgoorlie townsite lost power again at around 10pm.”

“Clearly, the Government has not learnt from its mistakes and the longsuffering people of Kalgoorlie are the ones that bear the cost of that,” Mr Thomson said.

“It is unacceptable that this recurring issue continues to plague the backup system in Kalgoorlie.”