Western Power’s unprecedented recovery effort to rebuild the network decimated by the Waroona bushfire is complete today with the safe energisation of the new 6.5 kilometre underground powerline to Preston Beach.
More than 300 Western Power employees worked on the restoration effort after the fire destroyed nearly 950 poles and almost 50 kilometres of powerlines.
Western Power’s Asset Operations Executive Manager Dave Fyfe said the Waroona bushfire restoration was a massive task that tested Western Power’s crews and challenged them to come up with innovative solutions including the new underground line.
“Our crews and engineers have carried out the rebuild with an eye on finding the most efficient and affordable ways to rebuild the network that will best suit our customers’ needs,” Mr Fyfe said.
“Undergrounding power between Forrest Highway to the outskirts of Preston Beach will help add another layer of reliability to the power supply for the community and help protect their supply from any future fire events.”
The total cost of the cable project was $1.4 million and the line follows a similar path to the former overground network except where soil conditions required contractors to tunnel underneath the road.
Mr Fyfe said that after initial preparation works the undergrounding of the line took two weeks to complete and utilised the latest in tunnelling technology.
During construction, Western Power placed three emergency generators in the town to provide electricity supply.
The safe energisation of the cable this morning means that Preston Beach customers have been returned to the network for the first time since the bushfire damaged the network on 7 January.
Mr Fyfe said Western Power would continue to work with the Yarloop community to help families and businesses rebuild and reconnect to the network when the time is right for them.
As part of this commitment Western Power has waived fees that would usually accompany a standard reconnection.
The total cost of damage to parts of the South West electricity network caused by the devastating bushfire has been estimated at up to $26 million.
Photographs of the underground line rebuild are available.