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Gracemere substation and powerline route

Project update - July 2017

We are planning to commence preliminary works at the Gracemere substation site in the coming weeks, to prepare for the electrical and civil works. This will include site surveys, conducting soil resistivity testing and commencing environmental testing, such as EMF (electric and magnetic fields) and noise studies at the site.

We will also start investigating the substation design options, with consideration for the visual amenity around the substation site. We’ll be consulting with residents in the immediate area to enhance the final design.

The project

We are investing in the local electricity network to meet the increasing demand for electricity in the Gracemere region and to provide residents with a secure and reliable electricity supply.

We are constructing a new zone substation in Gracemere, a new 66,000 volt (66kV) powerline and undertaking other distribution network upgrades. When complete, the new powerline will connect the existing Egans Hill and ultimately the Malchi substations.

This investment will benefit around 10,000 homes and businesses and support future economic growth in the region, by increasing the capacity of the local network and providing new options for restoring power during unplanned outages.

Key points

  • The project is necessary to support the community’s growing demand for electricity and to ensure reliability of supply to the residents of Gracemere
  • We engaged the community about the project in 2012. This supported the selection of the substation site and the identification of the line route
  • We are consulting with residents in the immediate area of the substation to enhance the final design
  • While the route for the powerline has been identified, the final design of the powerline and the location of the poles has not yet been decided. We will be consulting along the route to minimise the impact to the community
  • It has been agreed that the powerline will be constructed underground into and out of the substation at Gracemere
  • We are committed to providing the community with information as the project progresses and we will carefully consider all feedback received.

The substation

The Egans Hill substation is the primary point of supply for the Malchi substation, which supplies Gracemere and outlying communities. The demand load on the existing Malchi substation is approaching capacity. To secure the electricity needs of the Gracemere region, we need to construct a new zone substation in Gracemere and supply power to it through a new powerline.

After a number of investigations and in consultation with Rockhampton Regional Council's staff and elected representatives, we consulted with the community on a preferred site close to the load centre for the new substation in 2012. The site is bordered by Platen, John, James and Lawrie Streets in the Gracemere township.

This was identified as the preferred site after the investigation of 10 other potential sites, which were deemed unsuitable for reasons such as drainage, location, technical constraints and environmental and community impact. A further seven sites were also suggested by the community, which after investigation were also determined to be unsuitable.

Following all of the investigations and consultation, we purchased the site in 2012. The site is 8,226m 2 which will allow the substation to be strategically located to reduce the impact on the surrounding properties. Vegetation and fencing will be used to visually screen the substation.

The powerline route

The new 66 kV powerline will connect the new Gracemere substation with the Egans Hill substation. In the future, Gracemere substation may also be connected to Malchi substation.

The route identified runs down Lawrie Street, along Gavial Gracemere Road and into Sullivan Road. In addition, a route has been identified between Gracemere and Malchi substations for a future feeder.

The final design of the powerline is yet to be decided and the project team is working on developing potential design options. When these design options are available, we will share these with the community and welcome feedback.

Project schedule

StageActivitiesTiming/Status
NETWORK PLANNING & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
  • Identify options and undertake preliminary evaluation
  • Engage the community on substation site and powerline route
Completed June 2012
DESIGN DEVLEOPMENT
  • Undertake preliminary design work
  • Recommence community consultation
  • Consider community feedback
  • Finalise substation and powerline designs
Mar - Dec 2017
DRAFT DESIGN
  • Update and keep the community informed
  • Construct the substation site and powerline
2018 - 2020

Keeping you informed

Our community engagement activities aim to provide a greater understanding of the project, the various stakeholder considerations, and the challenges and opportunities in designing and constructing the project to meet these various requirements.

They also provide the community with the opportunity to express their views and concerns. We carefully consider all feedback received.

Recognising some of the constraints in which we must operate, including legislative requirements, construction standards and financial constraints, we aim to provide the community a voice and a genuine opportunity to influence the outcome on the negotiable aspects of the project.

Public information sessions

A number of information sessions were held in 2012 to provide information to the community about the project, the Gracemere substation site acquisition options and the then proposed powerline route. These sessions proved valuable to both the community and our project team.

We remain committed to continuing to provide the community with information and the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback as the project progresses.

Newsletters

Download the newsletters about the Gracemere Substation and Powerline project.

Frequently asked questions

Download a copy of the following Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 175.1 kb) (FAQs) for the Gracemere Substation and Powerline Project.

Why is the project needed?

The demand load on the existing Malchi substation which supplies Gracemere is approaching capacity, and additional capacity needs to be created to ensure a reliable supply for the township and to provide for future regional growth.

This increasing demand for electricity has resulted from a growing local population, new housing estate developments and additional industrial load requirements from the Gracemere industrial area. Our enhanced lifestyle choices contributing to the use of energy-hungry devices like air conditioners and plasma televisions are also increasing the pressure on the existing electricity distribution network.

This demand led us to identify that construction of a new substation was required to ensure the Gracemere community continues to be provided with a reliable power supply and adequately caters for economic growth and supports future regional development.

Did you consider other options?

Substation:

We undertook a thorough assessment of a number of potential locations for the substation site in the Gracemere area.

We investigated available land within the township precinct based on the criteria of proximity to the electricity load, site access, network access and minimal social and environmental impacts.

The new substation for Gracemere needs to be located within the township to supply electricity to the growing number of residential estates being developed and planned for, as well as supplying the industrial area on the western approach to the town along the Capricorn Highway.

The location selected will also cater for increased demand from future commercial development within the Gracemere CBD. With the support of the Rockhampton Regional Council, we believe the selected substation site will offer the lowest overall environment, social and economic impact to the Gracemere community.

Powerline location:

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

What planning approvals are required?

The substation does not require planning approval under the current planning scheme.

While the approval was not required, we chose to take a collaborative approach, working with Rockhampton Regional Council and the community to identify a suitable location for the substation. We have also taken guidance from Local and State planning instruments to ensure the project takes into consideration all potential impacts.

The proposed substation site was purchased as a private sale.

What were the environmental, design and cost factors that were considered before the line route was proposed?

Main considerations in selecting the powerline route included:

  • Minimising the potential impact on homes and businesses, recreation areas, scenic and tourism areas, conservation and heritage areas, or areas zoned for future development
  • Avoiding, where possible, extremely rough or steep terrain including water bodies
  • Minimising the impact on small land parcels and cultivated land
  • Minimising clearing of native vegetation and its potential habitat values and any impact on endangered and vulnerable ecosystems, or threatened flora and fauna species.

What will the substation look like?

The substation will have a modern appearance and be designed to minimise any impact on the visual amenity of the area. Artist’s impressions will provide the community with an idea of what the substation will look like on site.

Will the substation be fenced?

All of our substations are fully enclosed by fencing as a security measure to both protect the community and to avoid any damage occurring to electrical infrastructure.

This fencing can be a combination of chain mesh fencing for security purposes, and/or timber fencing to provide screening of the substation from the street and help improve the visual amenity.

The design of the substation fence and material choice will be determined during the design phase and form part of the community consultation process.

Will the substation create a lot of noise?

Low levels of background noise are associated with normal substation operation. The faint hum is expected to be indistinguishable from surrounding sounds, however this will be considered as part of the design.

As part of the environmental impact assessment for a substation site, a noise assessment is carried out in accordance with the  Environmental Protection Act 1994, Environmental Protection Policy (Noise), and noise mitigation measures are put in place, where necessary. The noise study is scheduled to be completed towards the end of 2017.

When will the substation and powerlines be built?

The new Gracemere substation and the powerlines connecting the new substation to the existing Egans Hill substation are expected to be constructed between 2018 and 2020.

We will continue to provide the community with information about the project and will advise residents of the expected construction dates as the project progresses.

Why aren't powerlines near residential communities placed underground?

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

Electricity infrastructure projects are a necessity, and the solutions proposed must be considered cost effective. We aim to balance the costs, which are ultimately paid for by our customers, with any potential impacts from the infrastructure’s construction on the community.

We are 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 there any health risks?

When substations and powerlines are discussed, many people ask about electric and magnetic fields (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. Putting powerlines underground does not reduce the levels of EMF as the earth does not create a shield.

Fortunately, EMF can be reduced by the configuration of substation infrastructure and powerlines. The project team will design the transmission lines with this in mind. Our standards for EMF emissions continue to be better than those required by Australian and international health authorities.

Along the proposed line route and at the substation boundary, EMF levels are expected to be well within the limits required by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and similar to those encountered in daily life. Tests will confirm this during a survey of the proposed line route and substation site before the project is completed.

More detailed information on EMF and links to the ICNIRP website and other relevant organisations can be found on our Electric and magnetic fields webpage.

Project information and contact details

We are committed to keeping the community informed as the project progresses. We will achieve this by using a range of letters, newsletters, newspaper notices, and stakeholder meetings.

For more information or to provide us with feedback, please contact the project team:

Complete our online project feedback form.

Email: community@ergon.com.au

Phone: 1300 653 055

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