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Blackwater to Emerald powerline replacement

Project update

The Blackwater to Emerald powerline replacement project has been reviewed and a decision has been made not to continue with this project in the immediate future.

The electricity load in the area has reduced since the initial decision was made to upgrade the powerline and there have also been a number of changes within the electricity industry to help keep electricity prices down.

These changes include amendments to the planning guidelines, which determine when to upgrade electrical infrastructure and the need to use existing infrastructure more efficiently.

We are committed to maintaining high standards of supply and we will continue to manage the existing Blackwater to Emerald 66kV powerline through our normal preventative maintenance practices.

We will continue to monitor the future load requirements of the region.

Landowners and the community will be informed if plans for this project change in the future. This website will also be updated once any new information is available.

Project background

Ergon Energy is investing in the electricity network in Emerald to provide residents with a secure and reliable electricity supply and meet the increasing demand for electricity in the area.

Currently, Emerald's electricity supply is distributed out of the Emerald substation which is located on the corner of Long and Gladstone streets. This substation is supplied by two 66,000 volt (66kV) powerlines – one from Lilyvale (located approximately 69km away) and the other from Blackwater (located approximately 76km away).

We identified the need to acquire a suitable powerline route and construct a new dual circuit high voltage powerline from the Blackwater substation to the Emerald substation to ensure the security and reliability of power supply to the Emerald community.

Project facts

  • Ergon Energy has identified the need to acquire a new powerline route to ensure secure and reliable electricity supply for the Emerald community and to support the current and future growth needs of the region
  • A preferred location for the 76km powerline route has been identified between the Blackwater substation and the Emerald substation
  • The 76km powerline route will require some areas of new construction and some areas to be rebuilt to minimise the community and environmental impact
  • The powerline will be a dual circuit concrete pole line
  • The voltage of the powerline (66kV or 132kV) will be determined based on the electricity demand in Emerald closer to the time of construction
  • Ergon Energy will continue to provide the community with information about the project as it progresses.

Community impact

In order to provide a secure electricity supply to the Emerald community it is proposed to rebuild the existing aged 66kV powerline from the Blackwater substation to the Capricorn Highway near Emerald (mostly through easements on private property) and construct a new powerline from the Capricorn Highway at the Emerald Agricultural College to the Emerald substation.

A preferred route for the powerline has been identified and where possible, power poles will be situated where they have the least impact on nearby properties. The powerline is expected to be a dual circuit concrete pole construction.

Due to the length of the powerline (76km in total) there will be some areas where it is proposed to build adjacent to the existing powerline, some areas where the powerline will be rebuilt (the existing powerline is removed at the same time that the new powerline is constructed) and other areas where the powerline will be combined with an existing lower voltage line. These areas have been marked on the enclosed map.

The powerline will require some easements to be negotiated with property owners (this will mostly occur on rural properties between Blackwater and Emerald), and in other areas the powerline will be constructed within the road corridor.

Map of the Blackwater to Emerald Powerline Route

View the Blackwater to Emerald Entire Powerline Route Map (PDF 679 kb) in futher detail.

The powerline

The powerline is expected to be either a 66kV or 132kV dual circuit concrete pole powerline. The dual circuit powerline will consist of six wires, three on each side with two earth wires above them to protect the line from lightening strike (see example image below).

Due to the length of this powerline route (76km), part of the route will need a new powerline constructed adjacent to the existing line within easements on private property, while other areas will be rebuilt (the new line will be built in the same area as the existing line) and some areas will see the new high voltage powerline combined with an existing lower voltage powerline. These locations have been identified on the enclosed map.

Images of both a 66,000 vote and 132,000 volt powerline

Project schedule

Please use the table below as a guide. * Subject to change.

  • Identify issue
  • Research options
  • Evaluate alternatives
  • Determine most appropriate solution
Completed 2011 - 2012
  • Inform community
  • Distribute newsletters
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Provide updates to community
  • Ongoing liaison
Completed 2012
  • Field surveys
  • Technical investigations
  • Design powerline
  • Finalise designs
  • Provide updates to community
  • Order materials
  • Commence construction
  • Commission new powerline
  • Remove old powerline


Download the newsletter about the Blackwater to Emerald Powerline Replacement project.

Frequently asked questions

Download the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 683 kb) (FAQs) for the Blackwater to Emerald Powerline Replacement Project.

What are the main considerations in selecting the powerline route?

There are a number of factors Ergon Energy considers when selecting a powerline route. These include:

  • Avoiding, where possible, nearby houses and buildings, recreation areas, scenic and tourism areas, conservation and heritage areas, population centres and areas zoned for urban use
  • Avoiding, where possible, extremely rough or steep terrain including water bodies
  • Minimising the impact on the number of small land parcels and cultivated land affected, as well as endangered ecosystems
  • Minimising clearing of native vegetation, both regrowth and remnant, and its potential habitat values
  • Minimising impacts to potential endangered, vulnerable and near threatened flora and fauna species.

Did you consider other options?

Ergon Energy investigated a number of powerline route options taking social, environmental, design, cost factors and the location of the existing powerline into consideration before the proposed powerline corridor was selected.

What planning approvals are required?

The proposed powerline route is exempt under the local planning scheme. Ergon Energy has also liaised with the Central Highlands Regional Council, the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines about this project.

Are there any health risks associated with powerlines?

When substations and powerlines are discussed, many people ask about electric and magnetic fields (EMF). In response to community interest, we will continue to provide balanced and factual information about EMF.

EMF are generated by any object with electric current flowing through it including powerlines and all electrical appliances used in homes such as televisions, washing machines, microwaves, hair dryers and computers.

The level of EMF from powerlines depends on the amount of current flowing along the lines. Fields decrease in strength the further you move away from the source. Fortunately, EMF can be reduced by configuring wires in a particular design. The project team will design the transmission lines with this in mind.

The powerline between Blackwater and Emerald will be designed to meet acceptable EMF standards determined by national and international guidelines issued by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)

More detailed information on EMF and links to the ICNIRP website and other relevant organisations can be found on the Ergon Energy website under Electric and Magnetic Fields.

What is Ergon Energy's policy in relation to health effects of EMFs?

Ergon Energy relies on expert advice from competent health authorities in Australia and from around the world. Ergon Energy constantly monitors information on EMF and adheres to guidelines set out by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

Ergon Energy has a documented policy and procedures relating to design and installation practices and EMFs. For example, the level of EMFs at the boundary or fence line of a substation are generally similar to those encountered by people in their daily lives.

At the present time, scientific evidence does not firmly establish that exposure to low level electric and magnetic fields found around the home, the office or near powerlines is a health hazard. Despite this, the electricity industry in Australia has adopted a policy of 'prudent avoidance'.

Why aren't powerlines near residential communities placed underground?

The Blackwater to Emerald powerline will be a highly reliable, low maintenance line. Underground powerlines have a higher risk of faults due to the lines being more exposed to damage due to their proximity to the ground.

The cost to underground powerlines is also significantly more than constructing them above ground.

Electricity infrastructure projects are a necessity, and while we continually balance the costs and impacts of infrastructure construction so as to have minimal impact on communities, some strategies are not cost effective.

Ergon Energy is required to meet obligations under the National Electricity Law which promotes the efficient investment in and operation and use of electricity services for the long term interests of electricity consumers.

Are residents likely to experience power outages during the construction phase?

If required at all, power interruptions will be kept to a minimum.

Customers will be advised of scheduled outages in advance with dates and approximate times to plan around them. Noticers will be sent to your postal address (unless you have recorded an alternative method of contact with Ergon Energy).

Ergon Energy will make special arrangements for customers who are registered as requiring electricity to maintain life support.

Which properties will be impacted?

Owners of properties impacted by the project will be contacted directly by a member of the project team.

What can Ergon Energy do to assist property owners adjacent to the proposed line route / substation?

Ergon Energy will continue to liaise with those property owners whose properties are adjacent to the proposed powerline route. We will keep them informed of developments, as well as receive their feedback.

When is compensation available to landowners?

Ergon Energy compensates owners when land is acquired or an easement is registered over their property.

What is an easement?

A power line easement is an encumbrance over part of someone else's property, which gives Ergon Energy the right to use that area of land for the construction and operation of a power line.

There are rights and responsibilities associated with an easement. These are listed on a schedule attached to the dealing, which is listed on the property title and referenced by a dealing number.

An easement cannot be removed from a property title without the agreement of all parties to the easement.

More information about property titles and easements can be obtained from the Titles Registry website, by email, phoning 13 74 68 or by visiting:

Emerald Titles Registry
99 Hospital Road

What is a substation?

A zone substation is not a power station and does not generate electricity. It is a bulk supply point to provide electricity to customers in an area.

Equipment within a substation transforms the electricity entering the station to lower voltages if needed, manages the current or flow of electricity and switches electricity between the differing powerlines leaving the site. It ensures suitable quality and distribution of electricity for public use.

To be reliable and effective, substations need to be situated close to the load (where the demand for power is coming from).

Ergon Energy's criteria for locating substations including proximity to the electrical load (where the need is greatest), site access (getting Ergon vehicles in and out safely), network access (getting the high voltage power lines in and low voltage distribution lines out), height above flood zones and social and environmental impacts.

Construction of substations involves earthworks to prepare the site for foundations and new equipment to be installed. Civil and electrical construction works follow for the buildings, steel structures and new electrical equipment.

Our community engagement goal

We aim to provide you with balanced and objective information to assist you in understanding the need for this project, our proposed solution and how it may affect you.

Our Promise

We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge your feedback and respond in an appropriate manner.

Project contact details

For more information about the proposed Blackwater to Emerald powerline route, please contact us on:

Phone: 1300 653 055

Email: community@ergon.com.au

Or complete our online project feedback form.

We will continue to keep the community informed as the project progresses via letters, newsletters, stakeholder meetings and via the our website.

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