Upgrade for CBD’s underground power assets

Upgrade for CBD’s underground power assets
Brendan Rees

One of the largest underground tunnels with cables powering large parts of the CBD is being upgraded to keep up with the city’s growing population.

The 80-metre 1930s-built tunnel under Little Queen St will be part of a $24 million upgrade to the CBD’s underground power assets, securing the structure for the next century.

It will pave the way for the first phase of a major power upgrade to the underground power network by electricity distributor CitiPower to accommodate the city’s growing population as greater electrification and increasing electric vehicle take-up fuel power demand.

It will see a larger three-year revamp of a nearby zone substation to support both planned new developments in the city and greater electrification of existing customers across the CBD.

CitiPower’s head of network planning Andrew Dinning said demand was expected to rise by at least 60 per cent over the coming decade from its current peak of 470MW from recent years to over 700MW.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the city had a residential population of 12,000 at the time of the 2001 census, compared to more than 40,000 in the 2021 census.

“Melbourne is growing and we are continuing to develop the infrastructure that is essential for powering our city into the future,” Mr Dinning said.

“This major upgrade will allow us to maintain the reliable, flexible and secure power supply that is critical to our city’s economy, future growth and clean energy transition.”

CitiPower’s major projects manager Mal Harrison said works to the tunnel was expected to be completed in June, adding underground crews had a rare view of the CBD.

“We’ve found some amazing things on the job, from old tram pulleys, to forgotten railways, old horseshoes – it’s incredible,” he said.

“There are parts of Melbourne’s underground that nobody knows exist, and we get to work in them every day, so it’s not a bad office.” •


Caption: CitiPower’s major projects manager Mal Harrison.

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Support our dedicated journalists with a donation to help us continue delivering high-quality, reliable news

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Like us on Facebook