Media Release: Reliable and safe power at a lower cost for Western Victorians

3 February, 2020

Electricity distributor Powercor will reduce network prices by 6 per cent for households while significantly increasing infrastructure investments benefitting all customers in western Victoria, under a new plan announced today.

Powercor has submitted its Regulatory Proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for the 2021-2026 period. As a regulated business, Powercor’s proposed investments, pricing plans and rate of return are approved by the AER every five years and this determines the revenue able to be recovered from customers.

Powercor Chief Executive Officer Tim Rourke said the proposal responded directly to customer needs, expectations and priorities.

“Our plan is to deliver more to customers at a lower cost,” Mr Rourke said.

“Powercor is Australia’s leading rural distribution network and is continually improving.

“We are proposing high levels of investment so we can continue to operate the network safely and reliably. Efficiencies in our operations mean we can offer this increased investment while reducing costs to customers.”

The plan focuses on mitigating bushfire risk, preventing asset failure, building a network to support growth and accommodating customer choices such as rooftop solar.

Distribution and metering revenue is forecast to be stable at $3,695 million over 2021-2026 compared to $3,694 million in the current regulatory period.

Powercor proposes $2,140 million in capital expenditure (net) over five years, an increase of $175 million (9 per cent) on the current regulatory period. This includes an annual program to replace pole-top assets, fuses and service lines as well as an increase in the number of poles replaced to 20,878 over the five years.

Operating expenditure is proposed at $1,537 million in the 2021-2026 period compared to $1,314 million in the current period, an increase of 17 per cent.

At the same time, distribution and metering charges will fall by an average of $24 for households to $407 per annum and $68 for small businesses to $1,610 per annum.

Based on a typical household in Victoria, Powercor’s distribution charge (excluding metering) will represent $357 (34 per cent) of the average annual bill of $1,057 in 2021/2022.

Other major features of the proposal include:

  • $61 million to enable approximately 95% of customers to connect a 5kVA solar PV system with export capability as the amount of installed solar increases;
  • Building or upgrading zone substations in Torquay, Tarneit and Bacchus Marsh to support high customer growth areas in the Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong and Melbourne’s western corridor which contribute to an anticipated 136,581 new household connections;
  • Conducting $9 million network upgrades to support farming communities in Tyrendarra, Strathdownie, Cape Bridgewater and Gorae West;
  • Building new depots in Warrnambool, Echuca and Brooklyn and expanding and upgrading depots in Bendigo and Ballarat to provide employees with safer, fit-for-purpose facilities that will further improve regional customer services;
  • Investing $166 million in information and communications technology integral to all modern electricity distribution networks and offering high quality integrated services for customers; and
  • Delivering a $198 million bushfire management plan that includes Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL)-related annual compliance programs and infrastructure developments.

More than 11,000 customers across Powercor and two other networks contributed to developing the proposal as part of a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program over three years.

Powercor offers 99.97 per cent reliability in electricity supplies, which means that on average, customers experience less than two outages totalling approximately 130 minutes off supply each year.

AER benchmarking ranks Powercor’s operating expenditure as the most efficient in the National Electricity Market.

Customers and stakeholders are invited to review Powercor’s Regulatory Proposal at www.talkingelectricity.com.au and to provide feedback to the AER as part of its assessment process.

 

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