Power and Water is implementing a new solution to improve power service maintenance in Alice Springs, developing a new way to replace power poles without having to replace the entire pole, only the pole cradle. 

Power and Water has been undertaking a program of power pole replacements in Alice Springs over several years. After the flooding of the Todd River in 2015, during which a power pole was washed out and collapsed, a comprehensive inspection of all power poles took place.

During the assessment process, a significant number of power poles were identified that will require replacement in the coming years due to corrosion, mostly as a result of acidic soil and groundwater in the area.

Power Services Project Delivery Manager, Gavin Kahl, said, “We found that it was the concrete pole footing where the main issue is. So there was not the necessity to replace the entire power pole.

“Our engineers worked with local businesses to develop a solution in the form of a pole cradle. The cradle is made of steel and concrete and weighs over 10 tonne. It stands approximately 2.5m high, 2m wide and 5m long.

“The cradle holds the pole while the base of the pole is cut and the footing removed. A new pole base is then welded to the existing pole and a new concrete footing poured. The pole is supported by the cradle until the concrete has sufficiently set.”

This innovative device has streamlined the pole base replacement process and minimises disruptions to power supply in the surrounding area while the work takes place and the work can be completed faster. 

Ultimately this solution will enable the pole base replacement work to take place without the need to interrupt the power supply.

Mr Kahl said, “The pole cradle is designed to support the pole while the base is replaced, with reduced outage time, leading to energised pole replacement when it is safe to do so, which will mean no supply interruption required at all.

“We often need to turn the power off when we work on these power poles, causing interruptions to supply for our customers, which is not ideal.

“This is a significant improvement to the way we work and providing safe and reliable power services to our customers.

“The pole (base) replacement program is not new, we’ve just improved the way we’re doing it!”

Suburban pole base replacements using the cradle devices have started in Gillen.

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