Underground power project wins resilience award

Horizon Power’s Pilbara Underground Power Project (PUP Project) was announced the winner of the Western Australia Resilient Australia Government Award at a ceremony hosted by the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

These prestigious awards are managed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and celebrate initiatives that build whole-of-community resilience to disasters and emergencies, recognising collaboration and innovative thinking across all sectors.

The Dampier Highway before, with powerlines
And after

Horizon Power’s chief executive officer Stephanie Unwin said by replacing the aging overhead infrastructure with new underground power networks, the PUP project had provided WA’s cyclone-prone North West towns with a safer and more reliable power supply.

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“The project was designed to dramatically reduce the likelihood of power outages to essential services, regional residents and nationally significant businesses during and immediately following critical weather events,” Ms Unwin said.

“In the event of an outage as a result of adverse weather, underground power makes is much quicker and safer for us to restore power.”

From 2014 to 2018 more than 356 kilometres of underground cable was installed, connecting over 7800 properties with underground power in South Hedland, Roebourne, Karratha and Onslow.

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The project proved its resilience during severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica in March 2019 with 100 per cent of customers who had been converted to underground power during the project not experiencing any loss of power as a result of Veronica.

“In comparison to Tropical Cyclone Veronica which saw no power interruptions for those with underground power, Cyclone Christine in 2013 caused outages to approximately 7000 customers supplied with power from overhead lines,” Ms Unwin said.

“Horizon Power is delighted the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has recognised the benefits and positive impact the project has made in supporting regional community resilience.”

The PUP project was successfully delivered in partnership with the Government of Western Australia and local government authorities of Karratha, Port Hedland and Ashburton in the North West region.