NT utility ramps up battle against roosting bats

bat, power and water

Power and Water Corporation is ramping up its battle against roosting bats, or flying foxes, which have been causing frequent overnight power outages in Darwin’s rural area.
 
This week, crews are working to install more than 200 bat guards along the Howard Springs feeder to discourage the creatures from landing on insulators and cross arms which cause the power supply to trip.
 
From the start of July there have been 26 outages on the Howard Springs feeder, of which eight outages affected more than five customers.
 
There have also been 31 reclose operations by Power and Water’s protection systems. A reclose operation interrupts power for five to 10 seconds, allowing the debris or animal to fall away from the line and avoiding a longer outage for customers.

Power and Water’s Stuart Eassie with the device

“Bats are an important part of our ecosystem but they can also wreak havoc on our network and our customers when they cluster around our infrastructure triggering a fault,” Customer, Strategy and Regulation Executive General Manager Simon Vardy said

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“Bats and other wildlife are a seasonal cause of power interruptions across Australia. They move around as their food sources change, so their impact is widespread across our network making it challenging to take targeted defensive action.

“If you see animals on powerlines, please do not touch them as they are likely deceased.”
 
In recent years, crews have also upgraded insulators on overhead powerlines and installed specially-designed mesh mats and animal covers along the Middle Point, Herbert, Humpty Doo and Dundee feeders.
 
Additional switches have also been installed around the network to speed up power restoration to as many customers as possible when an outage does occur.
 
Mr Vardy said Power and Water was aware of the seasonal impact of bats and has taken a range actions over the years, including pruning back trees near powerlines and trialling monitoring systems to send alerts of developing faults and identify likely causes of power outages.

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“We understand our customers’ frustrations and know these disruptions are inconvenient. Most of these outages are short, but in other cases outages may be longer as crews patrol the powerlines to restore power safely.
 
“In line with Guaranteed Service Levels set out in the Electricity Industry Performance Code, we will automatically apply a credit to customers who have experienced unsatisfactory power supply through their retailer.”
 
Power and Water maintain a power network of more than 6,000km of overhead lines and more than 3,000km of underground cables to deliver safe and reliable power to Territorians.
 
Some overhead lines in Darwin’s rural area span several hundred kilometres over native bushland, farmland and mangrove swamps.