Source: The Mercury, Friday, September 4, 1998, p.1-2
By GEORGIA WARNER TASMANIA'S electricity system is the oldest in the nation-and the state risks major blackouts similar to that which left Auckland in the dark for a month earlier this year. Two of Hobart's four major substations, as well as stations in Trevallyn and Electrona, use technology that dates back as far as the 1940s. And some of the equipment has passed its 60-year use-by date. The gloomy state of the electricity supply was revealed yesterday by Richard Bevan, chief executive officer of Transend Networks, the arm of the Hydro responsible for electricity transmission. The average age of Tasmania's transmission system is 33 years, the highest in Australia and well above the 25-year-old national average. Mr Bevan said the state needed a major overhaul of its transmission equipment. He said Transend had earmarked $450 million over the next 10 years for a major revamp of the old equipment. The program includes an $80 million Hobart upgrade, and three new sub-stations in Launceston. The old equipment supplying power to Tasmanian homes would be consigned to scrap once replaced, Mr Bevan said. "Major upgrades are needed to ensure Hobart, and indeed Tasmania does not experience a situation like we saw in Auckland where outdated equipment was not replaced in time and the city suffered the consequences," he said. "The system is old by Australian standards-and it has been allowed to get to that stage because historically, up until the early 1990s, the focus of Hydro spending was on generation infrastructure, such as dams, to the extent that transmission infrastructure was starved of money. "The other problem is that load growth in Tasmania has been far less Continued Page 2
FROM PAGE 1 than other parts of the country... other states have built brand new sub- stations to cater for growing demand for electricity." The archaic state of the Tasmanian electricity system was revealed yesterday when electricity regulator Andrew Reeves delivered his report into a blackout in Launceston in June this year, which left about 27,000 homes in the dark for three hours on a Sunday evening. The failure of a 40-year- old insulator in the Trevallyn substation, on Launceston's outskirts, caused the blackout, he said. The situation was exacerbated by the failure of a 60-year-old circuit breaker when Transend, attempted to restore power. Mr Reeves was unable to determine why the insulator failed-it was thrown away after being replaced and could not be examined for faults. "The equipment that failed had been in service at Trevallyn for 40 years with no history of failure," Mr Bevan said. He said the planned upgrades would drastically reduce the likelihood of future blackouts blamed on old equipment.
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