Powercor’s program to replace or reinforce a record number of power poles in western Victoria as part of work to strengthen the electricity network has reached a key milestone and is on track to hitting its annual target.
Crews have now replaced or reinforced 3,462 poles (as at the end of July), or about 50% of its annual target of a minimum of 6,930 poles.
Subsequent to this milestone, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has approved the $112.8 million cost of the major package of work, which will involve replacing or reinforcing at least 34,650 wood poles over the next five years. In its determination, the AER stated it was “satisfied” the amount Powercor proposes to pass through to customers “reasonably reflect prudent and efficient costs”.
Powercor’s Head of Major Projects and Maintenance, Marcus Olive, welcomed the AER’s decision, which found these works would cost a typical residential customer an additional $3 a year.
“As we face more unstable weather conditions, building a stronger and safer network to minimise power outages in the future is critical,” Mr Olive said.
“By replacing or reinforcing more wood poles, we are delivering real and positive benefits for our customers at the cost of less than a cup of coffee a year.”
The number of poles being replaced or reinforced has been outlined in Powercor’s bushfire mitigation plan, that is submitted to Energy Safe Victoria. The table below provides a breakdown of the action planned.
|Power Pole Intervention (total volumes)||YTD – as at 31 July, 2022||2022 Bushfire Mitigation Plan commitment|
The program began on 1 January this year and will continue until 2026. The first few months of 2022 involved setting up and planning the extensive supply chain logistics and resources for the program to ensure we were able to successfully deliver against our planned target.
“The number of poles we replace or reinforce monthly varies according to different factors such as weather conditions and access arrangements on agricultural land,” Mr Olive said.
“We’ve built a dedicated team to reliably deliver against our annual commitments.
“As the weather improves over coming months, we will be ramping up replacement and reinforcement numbers.”
Energy Safe Victoria recently noted that: “If Powercor continues to work to its current delivery plan, it can meet the annual target”.
Powercor has been coordinating replacements and reinforcements with other regional asset maintenance activities.
Poles are being replaced and reinforced every day of the year in all areas of the network, with additional larger pole replacement batches taking place already in Colac region, Horsham and the broader Wimmera region, and Swan Hill.
Replacement poles have included a combination of concrete and hardwood timber, with materials specifically chosen to suit conditions for each area.
“Much of our work involves replacing large batches of poles in a short amount of time, and we appreciate the support we’ve received in those communities we have been already been to.”
“We will continue keeping communities updated on our activities via media and social media channels, and through notifications when planned outages are occurring.”
Powercor will be publishing pole replacement figures quarterly at www.powercor.com.au/network-planning-and-projects/major-projects/pole-replacement-program/
For more information call Powercor’s media line on 03 9683 4342
Background – Powercor
Powercor moves electricity to and from more than 868,000 homes and businesses across the western suburbs of Melbourne and through central and western Victoria to the South Australian and New South Wales borders.
Our network is made up of more than 90,000 kilometres of wires and more than 588,000 poles and associated infrastructure.
Our purpose as a Distribution System Operator is to ensure all forms of distributed energy resources – such as solar, batteries, smart appliances and electric vehicles – are integrated efficiently and flexibly in a system that benefits customers.
Powercor is playing a critical role in supporting Victoria’s clean energy transition. More than 1800MW of solar, wind and other renewable generation is connected to our network, which is home to four of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Zones, while more than 23 per cent of Powercor’s residential customers are benefitting from rooftop solar.
We are at the forefront of finding innovative ways to support Victoria’s energy transition through projects and trials investigating community batteries, smart charging for electric vehicles, and microgrids and other community energy projects.
Our teams operate from 13 depots, our Bendigo-based customer contact centre and our CBD headquarters, to deliver reliable, safe and affordable electricity by operating, managing and maintaining all network assets and metering services. This means managing a network that is reliable and safe, particularly in relation to bushfire risks.