Source: The Mercury, Friday, September 4, 1998, p.1-2


Tassie faces blackout risk

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we saw in Auckland where outdated 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

Tasmania's blackout risk

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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