The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government is securing the region’s future electricity supply with a new substation in Canberra’s north-west. The project, developed by the ACT Government and TransGrid, will be delivered by Zinfra. The innovative design of the facility takes into account its proximity to nearby community sites and protected natural areas. Zinfra has drawn on its client and stakeholder management expertise to prepare the community for this project. TransGrid, Zinfra and its network of subcontractors will work together to complete the project safely.

ACT second supply project – 330/132KV Stockdill Drive Substaton

TransGrid has been working closely with the ACT government to secure a second electricity supply for the region. The projected growth of Canberra and the surrounding area has led to the development of this project to ensure a safe and reliable supply of electricity for the capital in the future. Approval has been granted to proceed with the construction of a new 330/132kV substation and its associated line works.

Zinfra, one of Australia’s leading service providers to the utility infrastructure sectors, is charged with the construction and commissioning of the substation and associated works. Zinfra has been engaged by TransGrid to undertake the construction of the 330/132kV substation and 6km of 330kV transmission line. The project also includes the decommissioning of two 330kV transformers and associated switchgear at the existing Canberra 330/132kV Substation.

Zinfra has extensive experience working on complex construction projects and maintenance service contracts, each with its own set of unique requirements.

The site and community

The site of the new substation was selected following an extensive community consultation process. Feedback from the community was a key factor in the compilation of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and ensuing development application process.

TransGrid determined that the infrastructure for a second power supply should be located at a reasonable distance from the existing Canberra Substation, to ensure a “catastrophic event” could not disable both sites. This means the electricity supply to the ACT would be secured in the event of one substation being out of service.

Zinfra’s General Manager for Projects and Construction, Paul Birighitti, says projects in urban areas require extensive and ongoing stakeholder relationship management.
“When large infrastructure projects are in close proximity to community environments, a strong commitment to stakeholder management is required to ensure a smooth delivery process,” Mr Birighitti said.

“With many years of experience in the delivery of brownfield upgrades in and around major cities, Zinfra’s stakeholder management processes are important to how we successfully deliver big projects.”

A number of factors influenced the decision to proceed with the Stockdill Drive Substation site location. The site meets a range of criteria, including:

  • Security of supply from the network
  • Minimal potential impact on nearby urban developments
  • Environmental and heritage values
  • Cost of infrastructure construction
  • Land use planning, amenity and co-location
  • Optimal technical design factors

Prior to works commencing in May 2019, TransGrid and Zinfra were invited by Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural and Land Management Services to participate in a Welcome to Country and Cleansing Ceremony by Ngunawal Traditional Custodian Tyronne Bell.

“This was an important ceremony for the local community as it provided an opportunity for the project team to acknowledge and recognise Aboriginal culture and history. It allowed everyone, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to pay their respects to the Traditional Custodians of Ngunawal land,” Mr Birighitti said.

The Stockdill Drive location also presented some unique environmental issues due to its proximity to Woodstock Nature Reserve to the west, the Lower Molonglo Nature Reserve to the south and a local golf course.

“It is an environmentally sensitive area, which contains some protected lizard species,” Mr Birighitti said.

The project’s accelerated delivery schedule aims to meet requirements to minimise high-voltage power disruption to the ACT. To manage this narrow delivery timeframe, Zinfra is managing multiple sections of work at the same time. This includes the substation’s civil works, transmission tower foundation works near the local golf course and the erection of new transmission tower structures between the existing Canberra Substation site and the Stockdill Drive Substation site.

These works are being undertaken concurrently to ensure there is minimum disruption to local residents and businesses, particularly the golf course which is a key community stakeholder.


TransGrid is transitioning towards digital substations, and the Stockdill Drive Substation has been designed to utilise IEC61850 technology.

IEC61850 digitises control and protection signals with the use of outdoor merging units into the Secondary Systems Building. The benefit of using this design protocol is that it reduces auxiliary power load and cables, resulting in significant savings on civil works.

Working in partnership

Zinfra has a long-standing relationship with TransGrid, and a history of successful collaboration to meet critical milestones.

Zinfra runs workshops at the beginning of large-scale projects to solidify safety procedures with workers. Senior Zinfra personnel also visit work sites each month to gain first-hand insight into the challenges project staff face. This guides management to support the safety of workers and help them deliver the project efficiently.

“It’s really about creating a positive safety culture through getting to know your people, your subcontractors and your clients. Getting management involved in understanding the challenges on a project helps ensure a smooth delivery process,” Mr Birighitti said.

As part of its commitment to engaging expert subcontractors, Zinfra runs Partner Delivery Forums each year.

“We take great pride in bringing our subcontractors along to those forums to talk about not just safety, but to have an open conversation and provide feedback on how we can improve what we’re currently doing together,” Mr Birighitti said.

Mr Birighitti said investing in partnerships with subcontractors was crucial, particularly when the number of infrastructure construction opportunities outstripped the supply of resources in the industry.

“TransGrid’s commitment to safety influences how we engage with our subcontractors. The way we approach planning with TransGrid helps us put our best people onto some of these more complex projects to ensure the successful realisation of their designs.”

This partner content was brought to you by Zinfra, for more information, visit

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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