Media Release


25 January 2019

An ‘outside the box’ approach to resource sustainability has led Coliban Water down a new and exciting pathway, resulting in the Epsom Energy Demand Project.

Executive General Manager Insight and Innovation Jon Anstey said the project was the first of its kind for the water corporation.

“In addition to this project being a new avenue for Coliban Water, we are also playing a pioneering role in this space for the Victorian water industry,” he said.

As part of the project, Coliban Water is a participant in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) demand response program. This is a service that can be used by the Australian energy market to ensure there is enough electricity in the grid to meet demand.

“In a nutshell, it means that in periods of peak demand, we can turn off some of the non-essential energy-intensive machinery at our Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant based in Epsom. This is called ‘load shedding’.

“When load shedding happens by a number of high-energy users, it can help stabilise the wider electricity grid,” Mr Anstey said.

Demand response is playing an increasingly important role in the reliability and stability of the national electricity network, especially in recent heatwave conditions.

“When there is high electricity demand, we may be called on as part of the network of ‘load shedders’ for help. Our Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant will receive an automated signal, and it means the aerators in the biological nutrient removal process get told to turn off.

"That is 700Kw of load we are shedding – equivalent to the average power demand of approximately 230 households.”

“Just yesterday we received a request to turn off for a few hours, which we were able to do.”

Mr Anstey said the decision to turn off aerators at certain times is not without risks – but these have been carefully considered.

“Before entering into the arrangement, an operational risk assessment was completed. We also have the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out depending on the operational environment,” he said.

“We’ve been able to mitigate the risks appropriately. We do not expect any impact on the wastewater service we provide to our customers or the day-to-day running of our water reclamation plant.”

Coliban Water is also a participant in a second program - the Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) scheme. This is a service that can be used by the Australian energy market to ensure electricity grid frequency remains stable.

“This is similar to the demand response program but is more focused on coping with shocks to the system such as a failure of a transmission line or generator,” Mr Anstey said.

Managing Director Jeff Rigby said there are a number of reasons Coliban Water opted to get involved in these innovative projects.

“Most importantly it helps our communities by contributing to grid reliability. It also helps to lower our carbon emissions and reduce costs to our business. It’s a win-win-win.

“We’ve had a number of calls so far, since signing up in January 2018, to shed some load. This initiative is an exciting opportunity for Coliban Water.

“Even though we are a small participant in a larger project, everyone has their role to play.

“Another way we have been able to help reduce energy demand is by switching the pumping off for the Goldfields Superpipe for short periods of time on days of extreme heat.

“We have been pumping from Lake Eppalock to supply the Bendigo system since the start of the week. We will be turning the pumps off today to reduce the strain on energy resources and our water resources are well managed to allow this to occur.

“This equates to 1600Kw of load we are shedding, the average power demand of more than 530 households.

“We believe water corporations are likely to play a greater role in the energy sector transformation in the future,” Mr Rigby said.




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