Electricity distributor Powercor will roll out a major pole replacement program to replace or reinforce 7,000 power poles per year from January 1, 2022, marking a significant shift in how network safety is proactively managed.
The program involves a 65 per cent increase in the number of poles replaced or reinforced annually and will coordinate with other regional asset maintenance activities over the next five years.
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Powercor head of major projects and maintenance Marcus Olive said the expanded pole replacement program was part of an updated Bushfire Mitigation Plan currently before Energy Safe Victoria for approval.
“This program is an essential part of building a stronger and safer network,” Olive said.
“With climate change, we are likely to experience higher winds, fiercer storms and a greater risk of bushfires. This program will help our network to be more resilient and able to fight the impacts of these extreme weather events on customers.”
The Bushfire Mitigation Plan sets out a commitment to replace or reinforce at least 34,650 poles over the next five years (6,930 poles per year).
Olive said the extensive pole replacement program would be planned on a region-by-region basis and coordinated with other maintenance activities such as the replacement of pole-top assets like cross-arms, insulators and powerlines.
“By bundling multiple jobs into works packages, we can minimise the impact on customers to get greater network safety and reliability outcomes,” he said.
“We will be notifying customers in advance of any works and letting them know if and when power outages are required to allow time for them to be prepared.”
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The planning for the program is informed by a leading-edge asset management approach and which tailors our inspection and maintenance activities for each of more than 356,000 wooden power poles. This takes into consideration factors including the type of wood, their age, and prevailing weather conditions at their location.
“By taking a precautionary approach to managing poles we will support safety and reliability objectives and over time, reduce the average age of our assets,” Olive said.