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Solar-powered summit gets an upgrade for critical services

How do you get 300kg of batteries to one of the highest points in Western Power’s telecommunications network?

Get yourself two Western Power technicians, a pair of riggers, a helicopter and a well-oiled plan.

Mount Frankland – 371 metres above sea level and 30km north of Walpole – is a massive granite boulder that is home to a small fire watch station and communications tower.

The tower services the communications networks of Western Power and some of the state’s most important emergency and community services.

The solar panels and battery storage powering the communications equipment had been struggling to keep up after 20 years of service, so the time was right for an upgrade.

Over three days, two of our telecommunications technicians were joined by two riggers to scale the summit and dismantle the existing equipment, then install and commission the new power setup.

The new solar panels and batteries – weighing upwards of 300kg – were loaded into a cargo net and suspended by a 30-metre rope as a helicopter flew the equipment to the summit for a safe drop off. The old equipment was loaded to the helicopter and taken away in a seamless operation. The team then completed the new equipment setup and restored the site to an operational state.

“Our telecommunications network is essential to running Western Power and ensuring all of our sites, infrastructure and crews are well connected,” said Jonathan Sharper, one of the technicians who completed the work atop Mount Frankland.

“It’s a complex network, comprising high capacity radios, digital multiplexers, ethernet, optic fibre, two-way radio and distribution automation base stations. It covers an area from Albany up to Kalbarri, and out to Kalgoorlie in the east.

“Our own two-way radio network provides an emergency voice communications system to our field across the state.

“The Mount Frankland project was a big job, but with careful planning, our in-house experts and a helicopter, we were able to finish the work quickly and better service the communications needs of multiple essential services.”

Did you know?
Our telecommunications network has services which pass through 900 sites including substations, radio tower sites, depots and the CBD building substations. There are more than 1,600km of fibre optic cables across the network.