Major powerline upgrade in high risk Dandenong Ranges

SPAusNet – the largest diversified energy network business in Victoria – has commenced a $40 million, two-year program that will improve the safety and reliability of the powerlines in the heavily vegetated, high fire risk areas of the Dandenong Ranges.

The program involves relocating approximately 44km of overhead high voltage (22,000 volt) powerlines underground and upgrading a further 20km of existing high voltage aerial bundled cable (HV ABC) with a modern design.

SPAusNet general manager asset management Alistair Parker said the company is committed to working with the community to deliver one of Victoria’s largest underground projects.

“In the early 1990s, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria replaced bare powerlines with high voltage aerial bundled cable in high bushfire risk areas, such as the Dandenong Ranges, to reduce power outages and the potential for fire ignition,” he said.

“We’ve started a program to underground, or where appropriate, upgrade 64km of HV ABC nearing its end-of-life, beginning with powerlines that service customers in the highest fire consequence, fire prone areas of the Dandenong Ranges.

“Months of consultation with local councils has been done to ensure the upgrade program is undertaken with minimal community disruptions while adhering to the environmental sensitivities of the area.”

SPAusNet believes it has overcome the prohibitive high installation and maintenance costs and the need to install large numbers of space consuming ground based ‘cabinets’ with a company-developed hybrid high voltage underground cable system.

“Our system will see cables buried deep below ground along roadways, rising only to connect to existing power poles housing transformers to deliver power into homes via existing overhead low voltage lines,” Mr Parker said.

“This approach is aimed at reducing the impact to the environment that traditional methods may otherwise place at risk.

“This program complements SPAusNet’s comprehensive bushfire mitigation and maintenance activity and other key works, including those associated with the Victorian Government’s Powerline Relocation Fund.”

SPAusNet’s program began in early July in Avonsleigh and is scheduled to commence at specific locations in Emerald, Kallista, The Patch and Mount Dandenong in the coming months.