There are many areas in various Whitsunday communities where high-voltage powerlines have been placed underground.
— Ergon Energy representative
more visually pleasing, problem free and safer,” she said.
As of 2016, Ergon Energy had one million power poles carrying overhead powerlines across 159,000km. Underground power cables stretched only 9200km.
In a five-year plan released last year, out of a capital investment allowance of $3 billion, almost onethird was allocated to maintaining the network and replacing assets “when required”.
A representative said as part of the company’s Cyclone Area Reliability Enhancements program, it had been “undergrounding” sections of its high-voltage network in coastal communities since 2001.
The program focuses on key infrastructure like hospitals, emergency services, community buildings, schools, shopping centres and other areas deemed “useful”.
“There are many areas in various Whitsunday communities where highvoltage powerlines have been placed underground, as well as many places in Mackay and even north to smaller communities such as Bowen and Burdekin,” the representative said.
They added that while you can’t storm-proof a network, falling trees and debris from Debbie had “proven to be the nemesis of this system”.
But this only bolsters Ms Hogan’s argument to replace overhead lines.
She said as workers restored energy, they only reinstated what was already there.
“It was the same system and it’s going to collapse again under the next heavy storm,” she said.
“Factor in the very real likelihood that with global warming cyclones will only become more frequent (and) there’s going to be a very strong argument to make sure all of our infrastructure is cyclone-proof.”
QUESTIONS ASKED: Ergon Energy crews working on powerlines at Strathdickie after Cyclone Debbie.