Cables in the air

Cables in the air

12 July 2012

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Australia – YARRA Ranges’ main energy supplier has begun a $40 million, four-year program to replace powerlines with aerial bundled cable throughout high bushfire risk areas.

This means when residents look up, instead of looking at a power pole that has four separate lines coming from it, they will be able to see one thick black line that looks like twisted liquorice.

That one insulated line replaces powerlines that are more than 30 years old.

The aerial bundled cable is visually better to look at but SP AusNet’s main purpose in replacing the bare powerlines with the robust and reliable ABC is to reduce power outages and fires from falling debris and animal interference.

High bushfire risk areas have been the first to receive the upgrades, including 36 kilometres of powerlines that have already been replaced throughout Monbulk, Olinda, Belgrave South, Belgrave, The Patch, Kallista, Cockatoo, Emerald, Selby, Avonsleigh, Upwey, Tecoma, Upper Ferntree Gulley, The Basin, Mount Evelyn and Kalorama.

The new program will include replacing 35 kilometres of cable costing $12 million across Wandin, Woori Yallock, Healesville, Menzies Creek, Toolangi, Mount Dandenong and Montrose, with significant work scheduled for completion this month in Belgrave Heights, Wandin North, Upwey, Sherbrooke, Ferny Creek and Sassafras.

The replacement of powerlines comes after SP AusNet had to adopt new rules under the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2010.

SP AusNet project manager Brian Clark has been managing the installation of aerial bundled cable in the Yarra Ranges.

“New technology is always coming out, but it has to be paid for and that’s why high bushfire risk areas are being improved first, before the bushfire season,” he said.

“In preparation for each bushfire season, we submit comprehensive bushfire mitigation and electric line clearance management plans to Energy Safe Victoria.

“Importantly, SP AusNet’s plans have been fully compliant as approved by ESV.”

He said the upgrades included devices that switched off the power supply in a particular grid and alered the emergency operations centre in Melbourne if there was a fault, causing less homes to be affected by a power loss.

“People expect to flick a switch at 2am to go to the loo,” he said.

“Our customers will report faults to us and we encourage that – we don’t want damage to our assets.”

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