Powerlink tackles mountainside maintenance challenge

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Powerlink has begun maintenance on the critical transmission line that brings power from Barron Gorge Power Station to the Cairns region on a steep Far North Queensland mountainside.

Queensland’s Minister for Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, said a $3.75 million project was underway to inspect and strengthen a four-kilometre stretch of transmission towers perched in steep terrain in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

“This is essential, but challenging, maintenance on the most northern point of the transmission network that stretches 1,700km across Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.

“Some of these 50-year-old towers are on a 37-degree incline, with a three-metre difference in the height of legs on one of the towers, so it presents some special challenges.

“The project team will consider using helicopters, modified specialised equipment and all-terrain vehicles to complete the job.”

The 18 transmission towers run between Barron Gorge and Kamerunga, adjacent to the Kuranda Scenic Railway line.

Powerlink Chief Executive Merryn York said the project would extend the life of the line by around 15 years.

“Inspections currently underway allow the team to assess first-hand the condition of each tower and determine the safest and most efficient way to deliver the specific works required at each site,” Ms York said.

“Powerlink is committed to safely managing any potential impacts associated with these works.

“At all times, we aim to conduct our activities with as little disruption as possible to landholders, the environment and the wider community. The project will be undertaken in accordance with rigorous environmental management requirements.”

Member for Barron River and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services, Craig Crawford, said the project would support nine jobs and had already started with detailed inspections of the towers that would run into early next year.

“On-ground works are scheduled to begin in mid-2019 after the wet season and, weather permitting, Powerlink expects the project to be completed by late 2019,” Mr Crawford said.

“These towers have been operating in a highly corrosive tropical environment and it’s essential they are effectively maintained to ensure ongoing network reliability, particularly given the cyclone prone nature of this area.

“This project is a cost-effective investment to strengthen Far North Queensland’s transmission network.”

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