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Unison commencing $4m upgrade of Flaxmere Substation

Local electricity distributor, Unison Networks, is set to invest $4m in an upgrade to its Flaxmere substation to enhance reliability of supply to the surrounding community and industry.

The company detailed its upgrade plans to the community at an information evening last night, aimed at informing residents on the planned works, as well as pass on important electrical safety messages.

“Under traditional asset management models, this upgrade would have been required five years ago, however Unison’s use of smart network technologies has allowed us to monitor the real-time condition of the substation equipment, allowing us to defer the cost of upgrading until now,” said Unison Chief Executive Officer Ken Sutherland.

“The new assets again will be equipped with these industry-leading technologies, allowing Unison to continue monitoring the condition of electrical assets in real-time which enables us to extract maximum performance and value from these assets over time.”

The upgrade of the substation will include new 33kV and 11kV switch gear and transformers, construction of a new indoor switch room, and seismic strengthening of the perimeter wall.

Mr Sutherland said both the upgrade of electrical equipment, and the housing of the equipment indoors, would further increase reliability of supply to the surrounding community as well as improve the security of supply to McCain Foods Limited.

“While upgrading the equipment, we are also taking the opportunity to house the equipment inside a new switch room, in order to reduce the risk of damage to assets from debris and vandalism, as we have had instances of people throwing items over the security fence.”

Unison Customer Relationships Manager, Danny Gough, took the opportunity to talk residents through the planned works, and the associated safety risks of a project of this nature.

“At Unison, public safety is front of mind, and although the site will have all practicable safety measures in place, given its proximity to a local park, we felt it was very important to reach out to the community about safety. Work sites and contracting equipment can be particularly tempting for inquisitive children.”

Mr Gough said he sought advice from Flaxmere advocate and Counsellor, Henare O’Keefe, on the best way to reach out to the surrounding residents, and Mr O’Keefe’s suggestion was a BBQ.

“We dropped invites to the residents of Margate Avenue to come join us for a BBQ, and learn about what we are doing. It’s a great opportunity for us to give parents and children the information they need to stay safe around the work site and electricity in general, as well as answer any questions about the project or other electricity-related questions they might have.”

The upgrade work commences on Monday, and is expected to take a little over a year to complete.

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