Brenton Laws headshot

Brenton Laws

Business Development Principal, Western Power

PowerBank; a community storage project

14.00 – 15.15 | Thursday 13 June 2019

After exploring Deloitte’s offerings, Brenton started out in energy analysing the long term financial sustainability of the network and this interaction with the regulatory environment. Brenton subsequently led the development of Western Power’s current strategic plan. This resulted in a substantial shift in focus for the business, driven by technology and the changing environment. Currently finding and leading new, non-traditional projects that will hopefully play a role in the future network.

Abstract Outline:

In October 2018 Western Power & Synergy connected a 420kWh community battery in the City of Mandurah, Western Australia. The strategic rationale was to integrate storage into the grid in the most cost-effective manner with the vision of reducing energy costs to Synergy and Western Power for the benefit of consumers. The battery was installed in a green open space, downstream on an LV network with high penetration of solar. The project has allowed upgrade of the distribution transformer to be deferred.

Synergy (Gentailer) created a customer facing storage product and offered storage capacity to local residents to avoid investment duplication. The customer recruitment was completed promptly and ahead of expectations. To date, the majority of the customers are saving on this new product. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive – customers are requesting this option in their community and developers are hoping to include it in their projects.

The major challenge for this project is developing a business model that can realise the benefits from all value streams and positively involve all stakeholders (network, generator, retailer, customer and community). The lessons Synergy and Western Power have learnt from this trial will shape the commercialisation of utility storage in the SWIS. PowerBank is a positive first step in developing a structure that can deliver this at scale, where all stakeholders can benefit.