Wind farms take precedence

I REFER to your front page August 23 article regarding Esperance's wind farms.

I represent the owners of the Esperance gas-fired power station. The fundamental error in the report is that wind farms are constrained for commercial reasons, to allow the power station to operate.

In fact, the complete opposite is true.

Most of the time, Esperance uses all the electricity the wind farms produce, and the power station makes up any shortfall so that a reliable supply of electricity is always available.

This virtuous circle means the power station operates to balance the output of the wind farms with the need of Esperance's residents and businesses.

When the wind blows hard, the power station backs off and vice-versa. To ensure the power station is always ready for action, it is important that two of its seven gas turbines are running at all times.

Occasionally, overnight, Esperance's electricity load is so low that not all the wind farm output is needed. On these rare occasions the wind farms are limited so the system does not become unstable.

Wind power is inherently unpredictable and unstable and can vary from zero to 30 per cent of the Esperance power demand over a period of one month. The balancing role of the gas-fired power station is critical to a safe and reliable electricity supply for Esperance. Rather than benefit from reduced output of the wind farms, the power station would benefit from increased wind power as we would then save on the considerable cost of gas needed.

Esperance is a fortunate town, self-sufficient in electricity production with wind power satisfying about 23 per cent of its electricity demand each year.

We hope that wind power will grow in Esperance in line with the town's overall growth even though available wind energy has shown a downward trend during the past two years. We look forward to a time when Esperance has grown to such an extent that the output of the wind farms are never constrained.