The absence of power poles running through Tom Brown’s paddocks remind him just how far technology has come, and the time it now saves him.

As a boy growing up on the southern coast of Western Australia near Esperance, his family relied on kerosene lanterns for lighting. The transition to a diesel-powered generator brought with it an increase in power capacity and quality. That was until advancements in large scale power generation made it possible to transmit power through a network of poles and wires connected directly to his home.

Today, the Condingup farmer, with his wife Victoria Brown, cannot think of any better way to receive power than from an off-grid stand-alone power system (SAPS).

We no longer have to think about preparing the generator ahead of a storm, or the many other concerns that went with having power poles running through our paddocks.” 

– Victoria Brown, Horizon Power customer, Western Australia.

The couple welcomed the installation of a 10.8 kilowatt solar PV and battery storage system by their utility, Horizon Power, in late 2019 which facilitated the permanent removal of the power poles and wires from their paddocks, delivering numerous benefits to their home and business.

“Throughout the year we operate heavy machinery, sometimes day and night, across thousands of hectares of paddocks,” Victoria said.

“While at times this is tedious and tiring, a lack of concentration could prove very costly if the machinery were to clip a power pole.

“Fortunately, that’s no longer an issue now that SAPS has enabled all the poles to be removed from our paddocks.”

Incorporating the latest in solar and battery storage technology and supported by a back-up generator, SAPS draws on the most ancient of energy sources – the sun – to deliver even more consistent, reliable and safer power.

The absence of poles in their paddocks is also delivering other benefits to the Brown’s agri-business, including time efficiencies and an ability to maximise land usage for cropping.

“I need to find things to keep my mind active while I’m spending long stretches of time operating machinery in the paddocks,” Tom said.

“On one occasion I began timing how long it took me to manoeuvre the machinery around each pole, and found it was 26 seconds.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but the seconds add up when you multiply the number of times each year we do this, and then by the number of years we have been doing this.”

Farm safety issues caused by pole-top fires have also been eliminated as a result of the SAPS.

“Over long spells of hot, dry weather dust can build up on the wires,” Tom said.

“If a sudden cold front comes in the dust can cause electrical sparks to the point of starting a pole top fire.”

Other causes of pole-top fires, including heavy winds knocking wires together, lightning strikes, and bird collisions were also common and kept the Brown’s alert to the risk of fires starting in paddocks and the threat this could have on their crops.

Like many of Horizon Power’s SAPS customers, the Brown’s now also enjoy a significant improvement in the reliability and quality of power.

“Since the SAPS was deployed we have only experienced a couple of power outages,” Victoria said.

“It’s easy to forget what the power used to be like before the SAPS, when it was not uncommon for us to experience power outages or fluctuations most weeks.”

“Now, it’s great to be able to flick a switch and know that the lights will turn on and stay on.”

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