Powercor completes record number of pole upgrades

Powercor workers upgrade power poles

Network operator Powercor has exceeded its first annual pole intervention target, replacing or reinforcing a record 7,201 wooden power poles across western Victoria as part of a major program to strengthen the network.

The final analysis reveals Powercor conducted an additional 271 interventions above its annual commitment of 6,930 as outlined in its Bushfire Mitigation Plan.

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Of these results, Powercor replaced 4,051 poles and reinforced 3,150 poles, with 76% located in hazardous bushfire risk areas. Powercor has today submitted the annual figures to ESV.

Powercor head of major projects Marcus Olive, said that despite Victoria’s record-breaking rainfalls and major flooding, the Powercor team had still delivered against its first annual target under a commitment to replace or reinforce at least 34,650 wood poles between 2022 and 2026.

“This year’s unstable weather has reinforced why it’s critical we continue investing in more resilient infrastructure to withstand climate threats.  By rolling out our pole intervention program, we are building a strong and safer network for our communities,” Olive said.

“Despite the weather challenges, we have still delivered the largest number of poles in recent memory to have been replaced or reinforced across western Victoria within a single year.”

Under its Bushfire Mitigation Plan submitted to Energy Safe Victoria, Powercor is required to deliver at least 90% of its annual target, with the approved plan providing a 10% tolerance annually to allow for potential variables such as weather and access constraints.

“With many poles planned for replacement submerged in water or unsafe to access due to ground conditions, we safely adapted the program to ensure we were able to continue delivering on the commitment we made to our community,” Olive said.

“In some cases, we have brought forward work on some poles that were to be part of our 2023 program, while those poles our crews couldn’t safely access will now be replaced or reinforced over the next few months.”

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The poles that were replaced or reinforced were chosen based on a leading-edge asset management approach that takes into consideration factors including the type of wood, their age, and prevailing weather conditions at their location. 

Replacement poles have included a combination of concrete and hardwood timber, with materials specifically chosen to suit conditions for each area.

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