Ergon Energy is planning to develop a new substation at Avoca to meet the growing demand for power in that part of Bundaberg.
We have purchased a block of land on the corner of Cummins Road and Doblo Street as the site for the new substation. The land was previously part of a rubbish disposal reserve that Bundaberg Regional Council was trustee for.
Initial earthworks have now been completed to prepare the site, although it will be some time before actual construction of the substation starts.
Ergon Energy undertook detailed analysis before choosing this site as its preferred location. The analysis looked at a range of social and environmental impacts, as well as technical requirements and financial implications.
Ergon Energy assessed the options in terms of minimising the impact on the local community while still being able to deliver the required capacity increase to the network. The criteria included the following:
- Social and community benefits and impacts
- Proximity to existing residential and commercial development
- Environmental impacts
- Size, topography and shape of the site
- Land zoning and town planning requirements
- Availability to purchase
- Construction advantages and constraints
- Cost considerations
- Engineering issues, including proximity to existing electricity infrastructure
- Ability to mitigate potential impacts.
Advantages of this site
The site on the corner of Doblo Street and Cummins Road was clearly the best of the options when all the criteria were considered.
This site has a number of key advantages. In particular, it is right next to the existing 66,000-volt line (66kV) that runs down Cummins Road. That means we can take power directly into the new facility from this existing line, without having to build new sections of 66kV line along residential streets.
The site will be bordered by the council rubbish disposal land on two sides. That limits any exposure to development to the east and south, both now and into the future.
The site is also centrally located to be able to supply power to a wide area of south-western Bundaberg. That maximises the benefits from the substation.
Importantly, on this site Ergon Energy was also able to buy a large enough block of land to provide a 15-metre buffer zone along both Cummins Road and Doblo Street.
Minimising visual impact
One of our best opportunities to reduce any visual impact from the site is through good quality landscaping and attention to building aesthetics. In this case, Ergon Energy deliberately secured a block of land that is large enough to provide a 15-metre buffer zone along the Cummins Road and Doblo Street frontages. This strip will consist of a 10-metre wide vegetation buffer strip along the road frontages, plus a 5-metre cleared security area to the substation fence.
The landscaping plan will incorporate tree species that are native to the area, have dense foliage, are evergreen and have a mature height of up to 4 metres. Trees of that height will be used on purpose. If trees get any taller, they tend to lose their ability to act as a visual screen, as the leaves and foliage sit above the eye-line. There may be opportunities to retain some of the existing vegetation within the buffer zone, if it meets these screening criteria.
There is also existing vegetation on the land along the southern and eastern boundaries of the block. That backdrop will help reduce the visual profile of the new facility.
During the detailed design process, we will look at issues such as exactly where infrastructure is placed within the site; the colour scheme and exterior look of buildings; as well as the landscaping plan, to come up with the final design that best fits the surrounding environment.
Status of project
Bundaberg Regional Council relinquished its interest in this block of land, allowing Ergon Energy to purchase the block from the Department of Environment and Resource Management.
Bundaberg Regional Council has granted Ergon Energy’s application for a Material Change of Use for the block.
Ergon Energy contractors have now completed the required vegetation clearing that will leave a buffer zone in place and will be completing the earthworks shortly. Fencing will be erected along the road boundaries and a sign will be installed to indicate this is a future substation site.
While initial design work has begun, it will be some time before construction starts on the substation itself.