Would underground lines stop outages from storms?
THE reliability of Queensland’s energy distribution has been scrutinised by residents in areas affected by Cyclone Debbie after she left about 65,000 homes without power.
Overhead powerlines were targeted and a Whitsunday developer is arguing they leave communities vulnerable and cost taxpayers unnecessary millions.
As Debbie tore across the Queensland coast at Airlie Beach on March 28, she brought with her winds of up to 260kmh and torrential rain lasting several days.
Ergon Energy workers were on the ground as soon as it was safe and worked relentlessly to restore power as quickly as possible.
But despite their best efforts, about 21,500 properties were still without power almost one week after the cyclone.
By April 9, that reduced to 2600.
Janet Hogan, owner of Whitsunday wedding venue Villa Botanica and developer of Botanica Estate, said lack of power was the “number one” issue for most people.
She pointed to aboveground powerlines as the main cause of disruption.
“To my knowledge, any areas that had underground power where they weren’t affected by above-ground power being out were fine,” Ms Hogan said.
“To me it’s really technology that belongs to last century and not at all appropriate for a place prone to extreme weather.
“A lot of people say ‘what about the cost?’ I think in the case of Cyclone Debbie, it would be interesting for someone to add all the expenses and see how much could’ve been saved if all the lines were underground.”
Ms Hogan said even the Botanica Estate suffered from power outages from Cyclone Debbie as the internal power, which is underground, was fed by the above ground powerlines which lay outside the estate.
“At Botanica Estate we’ve used underground power without any issue and during the development stage it only added an approximate 10% to the final cost for a result that is far