Recent bushfires have prompted Western Power to find new energy supply solutions for Preston Beach (WA). This includes the construction of 6.5km of underground power lines.

Recent fires severely damaged parts of the South-West electricity network, with 873 distribution poles, 77 transmission poles, 44 transformers and 30-50 kilometres of overhead conductors damaged or destroyed.

The damage bill is estimated to be up to $26million.

WA Energy Minister, Mike Nahan said Western Power has started the unprecedented task of reconstructing the region’s network after about 950 poles were damaged or destroyed.

“This restoration effort is like nothing Western Power has ever faced and will take significant effort and resources,” Mr Nahan said.

“The section of the network damaged by the bushfires was built in the 1950s and is one of the oldest parts of Western Australia’s electricity grid.”

Mr Nahan said Western Power would consider alternative solutions, including exploring ways existing infrastructure could be adapted to reduce outages in the future, as part of its recovery efforts in the region which would take into account what was in the best interests of customers.

“Western Power has explored new solutions to supply power to these towns and communities, and I am pleased to announce that 6.5 kilometres of power lines will be laid underground between Forrest Highway and the outskirts of Preston Beach townsite,” Mr Nahan said.

Mr Nahan said the decision to go underground, which was not common in regional areas, was taken based on the location on the network, the extent of the damage, surrounding dense vegetation and future bushfire risk, as well as a lack of network interconnectivity, soil type and the lack of competing underground infrastructure, including water pipes and telecommunication cabling.

“Undergrounding power to Preston Beach will further enhance the safety and security to the electricity supply for the area.

“In the aftermath of this disaster, I am pleased Western Power has been able to apply creative solutions to not only replace, but improve power supplies to customers in this region,” Mr Nahan said. 

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