AusNet Services (VIC) is on track to complete its $40 million Dandenong Ranges powerline upgrade project by April 2016, having relocated more than 30 kilometres of existing powerlines underground.

The two-year project involves relocating approximately 50 kilometres of overhead high-voltage (22,000-volt) aerial bundled cable (ABC) underground and replacing a further seven kilometres of the cable with a modern design.

AusNet Services’ project manager, Aaron Emmerich, is pleased with the progress and thankful to the local community. “AusNet Services would like to thank the local residents and broader ‘Hills’ community for their patience and understanding while we undertake this project to improve supply reliability and reduce bushfire risk,” Aaron said.

“Since April 2014, we’ve relocated more than 30 kilometres of overhead powerlines underground and replaced more than five kilometres of ABC powerlines within the Dandenong Ranges.

“This progress has been made possible through collaboration with local stakeholders, including the council, and a new innovative ‘hybrid’ underground cable system we specifically developed for the unique challenges of this project,” he said.

Under the company’s ‘hybrid’ system, cables are buried along roadways, only rising out of the ground to connect to existing powerpoles to deliver electricity into homes via existing overhead low-voltage powerlines. This removes the common use of large cabinets connected to the underground cables, which weren’t an option due to the lack of available, flat ground space.

“This approach utilises the footprint of the existing powerpoles, therefore, reducing the impact to the environment that other methods may otherwise place at risk,” Aaron said.

“Importantly, the upgrades are already improving the reliability of supply for residents and businesses by reducing the interference from vegetation and animals,” he said.

While this project is expected to finish in April 2016, AusNet Services has completed and will be undertaking new projects in the broader Dandenong Ranges that involve installing insulated cable and undergrounding powerlines.

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