Energex answers South-East Queensland’s population boom

Greater Springfield in 2030, artist impression
Greater Springfield in 2030, artist impression. Image courtesy Greater Springfield

Energex is almost one year away from completing a major upgrade of the electricity network in Springfield, Queensland, to support massive residential and commercial growth in the Western Corridor. Energy Source and Distribution talks with the Energex Western team on the back of a major milestone; the recent delivery and instalment of two new transformers.

In late 2012, construction began on a new architecturally designed substation in Springfield Central, just west of Brisbane. Construction is progressing well, with the 11/33kV Springfield Central Substation on track to bring power to 18,000 homes and businesses by October this year.

Costing $50.9 million, the three-storey, fully enclosed structure includes a number of unique architectural and landscaping features to screen the development from the street and to reduce disruption to the local community, including soundproofing and a complex underground cabling system.

Springfield Central Substation will bolster electricity network capacity available to homes and businesses in the local area, including those in Springfield Central, Springfield Lakes, Brookwater, Augustine Heights, Spring Mountain and Springfield.

The installation has been strategically placed to best serve the growing electricity needs of major neighbourhood developments. Located on Wellness Way, it is adjacent to the community’s health and education precincts and will provide power to the new Mater Private Hospital, large-scale extensions to the University of Southern Queensland and a purpose-built 390ha commercial CBD.

Energex western asset manager Gary Madigan said the upgrade will also meet the needs of the region’s rapidly expanding residential population, which is estimated to increase 370 per cent by 2030 to more than 500,000 people.

“The Western Corridor has experienced tremendous growth in recent times and with this development comes the need for upgraded electrical infrastructure,” Mr Madigan said.

“Residential power use – especially at peak times – has risen in the past 10 years due in the main to a rapid take up of electricity-hungry lifestyle products such as affordable home air-conditioning, larger televisions and other energy intensive household products.

“This residential energy use, combined with rising commercial and industrial power consumption, means it is essential Energex continues to provide a safe and reliable electricity supply that meets community expectations.”

Mr Madigan said, given the location of the new substation within Australia’s largest masterplanned city and the unique surroundings at Springfield Central, particular attention had been taken to ensure the design of the building blended with local infrastructure, much of which has been built in the past 10 years.

“The Wellness Way site was chosen for its proximity to existing electricity infrastructure, size and topography,” he said.

“The new purpose-built indoor substation is designed to use low profile and low noise equipment to reduce disruption to the local community. Specific equipment, such as transformers, will be fully enclosed to minimise noise.

“Energex is committed to reducing the visual impact of the substation and will implement a landscape plan to plant trees and use fencing as screening from the road. This will also provide security for the electricity equipment and the community.”

When touring the site in late September, Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle was impressed with what he said was one of the most sophisticated electricity substations to be built in Queensland.

“We know that Greater Springfield and the region are rapidly expanding and tipped for an economic and population boom, which is not just good for the area but fantastic for Queensland,” he said.

“The Newman Government is about making sure we plan ahead to meet those needs.”

Greater Springfield founder and city visionary Maha Sinnathamby congratulated the Newman Government’s ongoing recognition of Greater Springfield as a major contributor of economic and social benefits to the state’s south-east.

Mr Sinnathamby said he and Mr McArdle had also commenced talks on a possible alliance to investigate the prospect of Greater Springfield becoming the focus of new cutting-edge power and smarter distribution technology.

“In 2010 Greater Springfield was declared the world’s best masterplanned city. For us, that also means having the community prosper from our investment and investigation into delivering cheaper electricity,” Mr Sinnathamby said.

Q&A with Springfield Substation project manager Rob Minasi

Q: How will the underground power cables support the new substation?

A: The two 40MVA underground circuits serve not only to supply the new substation, but to also provide additional ties between existing zone substation, being Springfield and Carole Park.

This enables higher network capacity as well as greater flexibility and reliability during network abnormal situations, such as faults. The fact the two circuits are entirely underground also makes them far less susceptible to severe weather events.

Q: Is this substation being built with further expansion in mind?

A: In addition to the current scope of works to establish a 33/11kV zone substation, the site and building has been designed to ultimately become an 110kV injection point. There is a view to eventually provide for the area between Ipswich and western Brisbane.

Q: What kind of community consultation has Energex engaged in?

A: Regulatory test requirements mandated a high level of community consultation be carried out as part of this project. Based on feedback from local community groups and community stakeholders, a section of the feeder between Carole Park and Springfield Central that was initially planned to be constructed as overhead was changed to underground construction.

Q: What company manufactured the transformers?

A: The transformers were manufactured by Wilsons Transformer Company in Melbourne and were transported by road across a number of days to reach Springfield. Initially, this site will be a 50MVA 33/11kV zone substation, which required the installation of two 25 MVA transformers.

Q: What lengths has Energex gone to, to ensure the substation fits in with the surrounding area?

A: In order to be granted development approval, the building and landscape design needed to be consistent with similar buildings in with the local area. This has required the substation be fully enclosed with all incoming and outgoing circuits being underground. The purpose of the landscaping is to soften the visual impact of the large building and assist it to blend in with the future surrounds.