CBD power upgrade

By Sarah Bartlett

A $250 million upgrade on the CBD’s electricity infrastructure is nearing completion. 

Electricity provider Citipower’s Metro and CBD Security of Supply project will help secure supply to homes and businesses in the CBD in the case of unexpected events, such as extreme weather, fires, traffic accidents or infrastructure failures. 

CitiPower CEO Tim Rourke said the project was one of the most intricate and substantial electrical projects to ever be conducted in Melbourne’s CBD.

“CitiPower is Australia’s most reliable electricity distribution network so it’s not necessarily the risk of outages we’re preparing for, it’s the impact of how long it takes to restore power,” Mr Rourke said.

“Every day, almost one million people and businesses generating 25 per cent of the state’s economic value depend upon the continuity of electricity supplies to Melbourne’s CBD.”

“There have been many cases where major cities around the world have been severely impacted by power outages ranging from a number of hours to a number of days.”

“We are investing in our networks to do everything we can to prevent this from happening in Australia’s most vibrant and rapidly growing city.”

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio joined Mr Rourke on the first official project tour at the beginning of July. 

Ms D’Ambrosio stressed the importance of this project for the CBD during her tour.

“This upgrade will mean a more secure and reliable electricity supply for Melbourne’s CBD and highlights the importance of modernising critical delivery infrastructure,” Ms D’Ambrosio said. 

A major part of the project is the Waratah Place zone substation, which has been reconstructed and is in the process of being reconnected to the CBD grid. Once completed, the zone substation will have the capacity for power to be diverted around the grid so the duration of a significant power outage becomes limited to no more than 30 minutes. 

Currently, the CBD’s power supply is able to endure one major outage on the 66kv network. The project is designed to assist the CBD during two major outages.

Mr Rourke said that the substation would also help revive the cultural heritage of the laneway culture in Chinatown. 

“The new Waratah Place zone substation retains the character of the original building down to the circular portal windows on the northern wall, while innovative light displays on the façade are destined to become a feature of the Chinatown landscape,” Mr Rourke said. 

The process of connecting the zone substation to the surrounding area involves CitiPower digging a four-metre-deep trench in a small laneway as well as connecting and replacing 10.5 kilometres of cables that encircle the CBD. The final stages of this project will work with gas, water and sewerage utilities to enable numerous asset relocations. Works will require temporary closure of Little Bourke St between Russell St and Waratah Place and are due to start in August for 11 weeks. 

The project has also included upgrades to the Brunswick terminal station, Bouverie – Queen zone substation and Victoria Market zone substation as well as installing 21km of electricity cables over 7km from the Brunswick terminal station to Carlton. 

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