Standby generators deliver improved power reliability to Tasmanian town

Residents of the Tasmanian coastal town Strahan will now experience improved reliability in their power supply, following the placement of large, remotely-controlled generators.

Tasmania’s electricity distributor Aurora Energy spearheaded the mobile generation plant, which utilises high-tech communications equipment to significantly reduce the duration of power outages to the community.

The twin turbocharged V18 MTU diesel-powered generator, which has an 1800L fuel capacity, was manufactured by RedStar. PowerTek Tasmania manufactured the 1500kVA (approximately 2000kVA with forced cooling) substation.

Non-network solution manager James O’Flaherty said the generation equipment would be welcomed by the town’s 620 customers and business owners who cater for an influx of tourists each summer.

“Until recently, Strahan’s power supply has been via a single, 33km-long power line from Queenstown, which has been vulnerable to lightning strikes, falling trees and wild West Coast weather,” he said.

“This has resulted in an average of four outages a year affecting all Strahan residents, some of which have been lengthy. The single source of supply has also required Aurora to disconnect the entire town in order to do any planned maintenance of the 33km powerline from Queenstown.

“Our solution to embed alternative generation in Strahan as a contingency for power outages is highly cost-effective and will bring confidence to residents and businesses about power supply.”

Mr O’Flaherty said the permanent substation and two high-capacity transportable generators had already been commissioned and trialled manually and were now remotely controllable from Aurora’s Distribution Operations Room in Hobart. The operation will be automated later in the year.

“As well as the benefit to the people of Strahan, this solution is also a financial positive for Aurora, paying off the equipment’s capital cost within a few years due to the avoidance of customer guarantee payments and potential fines from the Australian Energy Regulator,” he said.