There are many ar­eas in var­i­ous Whit­sun­day com­mu­ni­ties where high-volt­age pow­er­lines have been placed un­der­ground.

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

— 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.”

PHOTO: CAMERON LAIRD

QUES­TIONS ASKED: Er­gon En­ergy crews work­ing on pow­er­lines at Strathdickie af­ter Cy­clone Deb­bie.

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