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Flaxmere Substation Upgrade to Future-Proof Power Supply

Project Manager, Paul Humphreys, Relationship Manager, Danny Gough and Flaxmere Councillor, Henare O'Keefe

Unison Networks has completed a $4.3 million upgrade to its Flaxmere substation, which has increased the substations’ capacity and will help cater for projected growth in the area.

The substation currently provides electricity to over 3,300 residents and businesses in Flaxmere and Twyford.

Unison Group Chief Executive Ken Sutherland says, “We know how important it is for our communities to have a reliable, resilient and safe electricity supply.

“This investment means we now have the infrastructure in place to cater for the projected growth in Flaxmere and Twyford in the foreseeable future.”

Mr Sutherland says the upgrade has essentially been a rebuild.

“We’ve taken this opportunity to not just upgrade the assets, but make the substation safer, smarter and more resilient.”

The switchgear has been replaced with new 33kV and 11kV switchgear; the two transformers have been replaced; and further ‘smart’ technology has been introduced.

The smart technology includes fibre optic monitoring equipment for the transformers, and arc flash protection of the switchgear, which allows the company to monitor the assets in real time, identify faults sooner and optimise management. A smart substation will further assist Unison to manage the technical challenges introduced by advanced customer-based technologies like solar and battery storage.

“The substation is also a lot safer for the Flaxmere community and employees of Unison,” he says.

“The switchgear and live electrical assets are now inside, away from human and environmental interference, and we’ve strengthened the substation’s perimeter wall as well as rebuilt the switchroom.”

As a result, the substation is now categorised as a ‘level 4’ building (as defined by the building code) which increases the likelihood that the substation will remain operational in the event of an earthquake.

Mr Sutherland says the project, which has taken 18 months, has been demanding due to the extent of the upgrade but has been well supported by the community.

“It has been challenging to keep the substation operational while upgrading it to this extent, but we’re proud of the team who’ve worked on this and thankful to the community who supported the project and kept clear of the site.

“Importantly, it’s helped us to ensure we’ve had no safety incidents, and that the project came in on time and on budget.”

The Flaxmere Substation upgrade is just one of several major projects Unison is working on to improve the reliability, and resilience of its supply for its customers.
Other projects include upgrading several other substations across its network; and the construction of a new alternative operations centre in Havelock North, which Unison will use should its Omahu Road headquarters be damaged in a disaster.
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