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Working with customers and the community to improve power supply for everyone

Parilla non-network solution news hero

Two and a half hours out of Adelaide on the Mallee Highway, there lies a powerhouse potato farm that was facing precarious power problems.

The challenge 

Parilla Premium Potatoes (who actually also produces carrots and onions) has expanded significantly since 2018, with a total of six major projects to add cool rooms, storage sheds and other upgrades to their processing facilities. These upgrades were putting pressure on power supply not only to the business, but to the broader region, and the existing network was limiting the possibilities for Parilla Premium Potatoes to continue their expansion. 

Failure to implement a solution before summer 2023/24 could have seen blackouts or power supply issues to the region during times of peak demand. 

Collaboration and communication at the heart 

“We started talking to SA Power Networks about the problems that we were experiencing and the problems the community was experiencing as well,” says Renee Pye, General Manager Pye Group (owners of Parilla Premium Potatoes).

"The goal was to build a cost-effective scheme that would allow us to utilise the customer-owned standby generator during peak demand periods,” says Elisia Reed, Head of Network Planning. 

From idea to implementation, this solution has required significant collaboration from a wide range of stakeholders, both internal and external.  

“At last count there were over 40 different workgroups from 17 different departments involved on the project,” says Ian Bowen, Field Services Delivery Project Manager.

The rebuild of the 5km stretch of 33kV overhead line was a particular point of collaboration, as SA Power Networks teams needed to consult with multiple landowners to seek agreement for new easements on their properties, as the least disruptive and most efficient way to relocate the old line was to build a new line in parallel with the old one.

Campbell Mitchell from Southern Mallee District Council was one of these landowners. “SA Power Networks had to get access to our property and they had to modify the easement and put in the new lines. They were pretty good to work with and everything turned out pretty smooth,” he says. 

Creating a solution 

The project kicked off in September 2022 and after significant development, modelling, designing and costing, the desired non-network solution was broken into a four-stage project.   

Stage 1:

  • Upgrade 33/11kV substation pole-mounted transformer   
  • Install 33kV recloser and various protection settings changes.  

Stage 2 & 3:

  • Rebuild 33kV overhead powerline (5km) supplying Parilla township
  • Uprate 33kV overhead powerline to Lameroo (16km)
  • Protection settings review and upgrade on multiple 33kV feeders.

Stage 4:

  • Install and commission SCADA scheme at Geranium Substation and Parilla Premium Potatoes site for Non-Network/Demand Management (DM) Solution.

The goal was for the customer-owned standby diesel generator to be run in parallel with the distribution network during peak demand periods. There are a lot of technical elements required to make that solution work, but essentially SA Power Networks will send a signal to run the customer generator to support the network during high load periods, and then once demand can be met by the grid again, we issue a signal for the on-site generation to ramp down. 

All major works were completed in November 2023, with remaining protection settings and removals to be completed in 2024. 

Benefits for all

Implementation of this demand management solution is expected to have a positive impact on the whole region. It will cost less than a standard network upgrade, provide a more secure and reliable energy supply to the whole region, and allow Parilla Premium Potatoes to expand their operations sustainably. 

“The project has helped us make sure that we can have power 24/7, and that we’re also going to have power injected into the community 24/7,” says Renee.

“This type of project is a win-win for the community and SA Power Networks, and we’d love to see more participation in the future,” says Elisia.

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