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Revised project to deliver underground power benefits to the Pilbara

Horizon Power today announced a new approach to complete delivery of the Pilbara Underground Power Project (PUPP), which is already delivering significant benefits to people living in cyclone affected North-West communities.

Mr Tudor said the benefits of underground power in the Pilbara were compelling as graphically illustrated in January this year when Cyclone Heidi swept across Port Hedland.

"Heidi was a Category 2 system and all overhead power distribution systems in the Port Hedland area were offline for more than 24 hours. This resulted in unplanned power interruptions for approximately 10,000 people. However the eight undergrounded systems remained online with only one customer linked to those networks suffering minimal loss of electricity."

"Moreover, although we have strict safety procedures, downed power lines represent a significant hazard to our work crews and the community.

"It is especially severe economically when you consider that Pilbara mining operations represent 40 per cent of the State's Gross Domestic Product and between 5-10 per cent of the Nation’s GDP."

Managing Director, Frank Tudor, says whilst Horizon Power remains committed to delivering underground power, as a key initiative of Pilbara Cities, improving safety and reliability of power supplies to thousands of customers in the Pilbara, cost pressures mean that the project is now more expensive to deliver.

"Competition for resources in the region has impacted strongly on future delivery costs," Mr Tudor says, "however we believe that the benefits to the customers and the region as a whole far outweigh the cost increases."

Mr Tudor said that following an independent review, the undergrounding project would be delivered on a stage by stage basis in line with available funds.

"It is a case of cutting our cloth according to our means," Mr Tudor said.

"This is such a critical project that we need to balance the pace of delivery with the need to be fiscally responsible and ensure we allocate available funds effectively and efficiently.

"It is important to note that as part of this project, Horizon Power has already delivered a major piece of energy infrastructure critical to the town of Karratha with a voltage upgrade from 11kV to 22kV. This has enabled the realisation of an expansion of industrial development in Karratha, which was dependent on higher voltage capacity." Mr Tudor said.

Under the revised arrangement, Horizon Power will complete the delivery of underground power to South Hedland and the Wedgefield Industrial area, as well as completing the work currently underway in the Karratha suburb of Millars Well and the majority of Bulgarra.

"The revised plan will enable us to continue planning for the remaining areas of Karratha, Onslow and the completion of coverage in Roebourne," Mr Tudor said.

"The majority of existing works are on track to be completed by mid next year and our plan is to source additional funds to ensure we can move smoothly to complete the total project."

The Pilbara Underground Power Project is a partnership between the State Government's Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities initiative and Local Government, delivered by Horizon Power.

Contact Reference: Wendy Pryer - Phone: 0409 796 999