West Pittwater Reliability Project

Ausgrid is planning to improve the reliability of the local power supply to West Pittwater (McCarrs Creek, Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and Southern Morning Bay), following extended power outages to the area in previous years.

  • Project need

    Ausgrid is exploring options to improve reliability to the West Pittwater and Scotland Island areas as a result of two major outages involving the submarine cables which supply these areas. In addition to these two major outages, reliability has been compromised by storms and vegetation impacting the overhead network. Since 2015, there have been a total of seven outages on Scotland Island and West Pittwater that were caused by issues unrelated to the submarine cables. In addition to the comprehensive solution being developed, Ausgrid is also implementing operational improvements to reduce the duration and impact of future outages for residents.

    Two 11,000 volt submarine cables currently supply West Pittwater and Scotland Island residents and businesses.  Ausgrid has been considering a broad range of options aimed at improving energy security to the area following extended power outages in December 2013 and February 2015. 

  • Project Planning

    Ausgrid has already implemented a range of measures to improve the reliability of the power supply and are continuing to investigate longer term solutions.

    You may have noticed Ausgrid staff undertaking work in your area over the last year. This work is ongoing and contributes to long term reliability together with the more comprehensive solutions discussed above.

    Improvements include:

    • assessing and upgrading network assets, including existing cables, vulnerable points in the network and isolating capability;
    • assessing and improving current vegetation management;
    • improving staff access procedures (including marine transport) and storage of equipment;
    • improving current work practices and increasing specialist field training for operators; and
    • establishing roll-out of an improved community information system.

    As the project continues to develop, there are a number of factors being considered, including:

    • community impacts
    • availability of space around existing utility services
    • environmental and heritage impacts
    • cost (minimising the impact on customer electricity bills)
    • technical feasibility
    • traffic impacts including access to wharves and local roads
    • stakeholders who may be uniquely impacted by temporary power disruptions or construction
  • Project Investigations

    Since the major outage in 2015, there have been six smaller outages on West Pittwater and Scotland Island. These were associated with storm events or vegetation coming into contact with overhead networks and were not related to the submarine power cables. Access to both locations and safety issues have presented challenges during these outages, and in turn have contributed to the time taken to restore electrical power.

    Ausgrid has been progressing feasibility and design studies and working with industry experts to determine the best solution for each community. We have assessed a number of options and are now moving forward. These solutions aim to minimise the impact of electrical outages to the residents and businesses of West Pittwater and Scotland Island.

    Ausgrid has concluded that two different approaches are required for West Pittwater and Scotland Island due to the layout and design of the existing electricity network in each of these areas;

    • West Pittwater’s arrangement = a linear network
    • Scotland Island’s arrangement = a circular network

    A number of project scenarios were assessed for each location, including the original cable loop to arrive at the currently proposed solutions.

    Current solution

    The linear nature of the network at West Pittwater means there are no traditional solutions (poles and wires) that can address all the types of outages faced in the area. As such, Ausgrid is proposing to install a hybrid solution to address the types of network outages being experienced.

    Details of the solution will be shared with the community once they are finalised. However, based on preliminary consultation, the hybrid solution will most likely be a community HV MicroGrid that is a combination of solar, battery and a community generator. We are also continuing to investigate options for additional reliability for households that experience outages on the LV network.

    Home Energy Audits

    Ausgrid commissioned local company, Your Energy Friend to undertake home energy audits for those person[s] interested in participating at West Pittwater. The purpose of those audits was to understand local conditions and household energy use to assist in assessing alternative options. These options included demand management, energy efficiencies, generation and storage options.

    The summary findings from these audits were:

    • based on the opinion of the auditor and home occupier (approximately 80% of the surveyed properties have some level of solar access or generation potential with less than 10% of properties with solar PV currently installed). This opportunity assumes generation greater than 2-3 hours per day as a minimum. Areas assessed include the building, but also yards, jetties, and infrastructure spaces;
    • almost all households audited indicated a support for or an interest in installing household battery storage systems;
    • small appliance ownership was high overall, with an unusually high ownership of heated towel racks and bathroom floor heating, with some systems set to operate 24 hours year-round leading to considerable electricity consumption;
    • an opportunity exists to reduce power usage with remote controlled power eliminators to switch off small appliances that are using high levels of stand-by power;
    • water heater replacement/thermal set point tuning appears to be a prospective opportunity in the supply area, with such large number of inefficient electric hot water systems, many of which were observed to have inappropriately high temperature thermal set points; and
    • the dominant driver of electricity consumption appears to be water heating, with a significant number of electric hot water systems in use.

    To view the full summary report, click on the PDF link at the bottom of this page.

    Households that participated in the Home Energy Audits should have received their individual audit reports. If you haven’t received a copy of your report, please contact Ausgrid at

  • Project Approval Process and Environmental Assessment

    Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Ausgrid is the determining authority for this project.

    An environmental assessment will be prepared on the works in accordance with Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Clause 228 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

  • Community Engagement

    Community feedback has been sought at various points since 2017, to assist the project team better understand household energy usage as well as local resident information.

    We have been keeping the community informed throughout the course of this project to help the community understand why we have reached the outcomes we have so far. Ausgrid will continue to engage closely and work together with the West Pittwater community.

    Ausgrid has continued to meet with key stakeholders including Northern Beaches Council, Rural Fire Services, National Parks and Wildlife, local Members of Parliament (State and Federal) and community group representatives to collect feedback and provide project updates.

    In 2018 representatives from Ausgrid’s project team held two community information sessions at The Waterfront Café at Church Point to answer questions about the home energy audits, project planning so far, and to talk to local community members. As the project technical investigations proceed, the Ausgrid Engagement team will be holding additional community sessions to keep the community and stakeholders informed.

    Community feedback (including initial survey responses) has assisted Ausgrid to confirm the proposed solutions for West Pittwater and Scotland Island. A summary of the initial community feedback received and how it has been considered can be viewed via the PDF link at the bottom of this page.

    Should you require more project information, or would like to provide feedback to us, please do not hesitate to get in touch via:

  • Next Steps

    Ausgrid will continue to update and engage both communities and stakeholders as we implement immediate improvements and continue to develop the proposed long-term reliability solutions.

    December 2017

    Further investigations into West Pittwater solution and development of energy market brief

    mid 2018

    Design and approval of the new underground cable for Scotland Island


    Implementation of short term measures in both areas

    January 2018

    Home Energy Audits West Pittwater

    Mid 2018

    Construction to commence for Scotland Island cable

    End 2018

    Developed design for West Pittwater solution


    • Implementation of short-term measures
    • Options for public transport and parking during construction
    • Noise and working hours during construction
    • Safety during construction
    • Construction to commence for cable installation

    Information and Document Downloads

    Ausgrid Survey update letter.pdf (207 KB)

    West Pittwater Community Feedback Report.pdf (774 KB)

    West Pittwater Home Energy Report – June 2018 (1.7 MB)

    Newsletters / Updates

    Community Newsletter – March 2016 (313 KB)

    West Pittwater Newsletter – Dec 2017 (534 KB)

    West Pittwater Community Newsletter – June 2018 (3 MB)

    Community Update – 21st February 2021 (397 KB)