Work completes on $6 million critical FNQ transmission line

Image: Dr Anthony Lynham via Twitter

Work is now complete on a complex $6 million mountainside project to maintain a critical transmission line in the state’s far north.

Helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and specialised equipment were used to complete maintenance work on 18 electricity transmission towers near Cairns, supporting 17 jobs in the process.

Member for Barron River and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said the project safeguards the reliability of the region’s electricity supply.

“This critical project is a cost-effective investment which strengthens Far North Queensland’s transmission network well into the future,” Mr Crawford said.

“This transmission line connects Barron Gorge Power Station to the transmission grid in Far North Queensland.

“These towers operate in a highly corrosive tropical environment and it’s essential they are effectively maintained to ensure ongoing network reliability, particularly given the cyclone prone nature of this area.”

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Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the four kilometres of transmission line is located in very steep terrain in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area adjacent to the Kuranda Scenic Railway line.

“This is the most northern point of Powerlink’s transmission network which stretches 1700 kilometres across Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.

“Some of these 50-year-old towers were built on a 37-degree incline, with a three-metre difference in the height of legs on one of the towers.”

Works primarily focused on strengthening tower foundations via an innovative technique called ‘micropiling’.

This involved building new foundations in the ground with a very high degree of accuracy close to each tower leg, then bolting custom-fabricated, heavy-duty steel plates to the foundations and towers.

Powerlink interim chief executive Kevin Kehl said the difficult location of the transmission line presented unique challenges for the Powerlink project team.

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“This work is complex at the best of times, but the difficult terrain surrounding these towers meant the Powerlink project team had to manage significant challenges,” Mr Kehl said.

“Our expert team was dedicated to thinking outside the box to safely complete works at each tower, using specialised access techniques and equipment.

“The most constrained tower was located in extremely dense rainforest in the Barron Gorge National Park, with very limited access. It’s a credit to the team that they’ve successfully completed the project with no impact on the local environment, in challenging terrain and with weather not always on their side.

“We’d like to thank landholders, our neighbours and other stakeholders for their patience while this essential project was undertaken.”

Queensland’s publicly owned electricity companies – Powerlink, Ergon, Energex, CS Energy, Stanwell Corp and CleanCo, will invest more than $2.2 billion on capital works in 2019-20, supporting up to 4900 jobs.