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Melbourne Water reduces its load on Victorian power grid

Melbourne Water’s planned demand management activities are aiming to reduce pressure on the city’s power network during the summer months, when electricity usage is at its highest.

Although the utility’s network of 14 hydroelectricity plants already covers power needed for water supply operations, Melbourne Water is rescheduling water pumping to lower activity during peak times and using storage in the sewer network to reduce pumping.

Melbourne Water Asset Management Services General Manager Gerald Fitzgibbon said the company is seeking to reduce its demand even further.

“So far, we have identified around 10MW of demand that we can regularly reduce across our sites for periods of around four hours at a time. That’s enough to support around 8300 homes on a very hot day. We also believe there are further potential savings we can work towards,” he said.

“Our sewage pumping operations do require a significant amount of power and we must ensure these vital services are always functioning properly; but we can always look for ways to operate them more efficiently for the benefit of the community and our current demand reduction program is an example of that.”

Melbourne Water’s team advises its contracted energy provider when there is “significant market demand”, signalling it to utilise demand management operations, thereby reducing stress on the network, Fitzgibbon said.

“Our energy team then liaises with operations to look at where we can reduce our power draw and advises our provider of these sites. These sites then reduce their load during the nominated period,” he said.

“We review the data after the event to determine the scale of our reductions and consider opportunities for improvement.”

Furthermore, the utilities’ hydroelectricity network supplies power to the grid.

“Our connected hydroelectric power plants, including five recently commissioned ‘mini hydros’, create more power than our water supply operations consume,” Fitzgibbon said.

“We reschedule operation of these sites during demand management periods to increase export of electricity while reducing consumption at other water transfer sites.

“Melbourne Water recognises that preventing a shortfall of available power during peak times is everyone’s responsibility and we will continue to expand our demand management activities in order to do what we can to help.”

Register for Ozwater’18 to hear more from Melbourne Water about harnessing hydroelectricity from Melbourne’s water supply.

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