Upgrade to Central Otago electricity network at Gorge Creek, Fruitlands

23 May 2018

Bringing power to customers in Central Otago involves Aurora Energy electricity network crossing some challenging terrain and withstanding extreme weather conditions.

Today, Aurora Energy called in the services of a helicopter to install six new high voltage power lines that traverse nearly 600 metres across Gorge Creek, Fruitlands (near Roxburgh). Using a helicopter was a safe and efficient way to install the lines in this inaccessible location.

The six overhead lines form part of the subtransmission network that connects Alexandra and Roxburgh. They also take power generated from the Teviot hydro schemes to Clyde where it is exported to the national grid. Three lines carry electricity at 33kV (or 33,000 volts) and three carry electricity at 11kV (or 11,000 volts).

This part of the electricity network is subjected to extreme weather conditions from frost and snow to high winds and fluctuating temperatures – which all take their toll on outdoor equipment.

The new span has been designed to withstand tough conditions. The seven existing wooden power poles are being replaced with four new steel poles set in concrete foundations with the necessary strength to support the large span across the gorge.

In total, seven poles and hundreds of metres of power lines will be removed and replaced with modern equipment specified to current standards. Some of the equipment being replaced is up to 50 years old and nearing the end of its useful life.

For the safety of the workers on site, we needed to isolate the section of line for the three days during the day while work was being carried out. We thank the 15 customers affected by the planned power outages for their patience while we completed this important upgrade for the community.

Planning for project started in March 2017 and the estimated project value of $280,000. Construction work is being carried out on site by our contractor, Delta.