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Underground and overhead power – what’s the story

By planeguy 5 January 2010 35

Okay, so around my way, all the houses are fed from overhead power, and the poles have TransACT strung a few metres below. However, the surprising thing for me at least, is that the streets have street lighting, on quaint little poles in the nature strip. These are NOT connected to the overhead cabling, and so I must conclude that there is a second power network running through the suburb that is underground.

Is this common in Canberra?

Is the underground power 240V too? If so, why would the power company go to the trouble of running underground power, without removing costly to maintain (but cheap to install) overhead cables, when the main cost of underground is the excavation?

Or is this just Actew/Govt incompetence again?

What’s Your opinion?


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Underground and overhead power – what’s the story
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niftydog 7:07 pm 12 Jan 10

milsey2010, from my experience the pole will basically have to fall over before they do anything. All three poles on my block have been condemned (for climbing) since I moved in ten years ago and they just keep patching them up.

milsey2010 3:52 pm 12 Jan 10

Thanks Piratemonkey. Probably explains why I get bounced back and forth between each organisation.

So now the question is how do I get the poles to reach an early end of life!!!! I wonder if anyone in the region breeds white ants… ha ha ha…

niftydog 2:26 pm 11 Jan 10

The letter I got was not an offer or a plan, but just canvassing for potential interest. It referred to a survey which I completed on line with a bunch of different costing scenarios – just about all of which were ridiculously expensive. I think your $10,000 was more like $14,000! There was no explanation of what would happen if only some people in your block/section agreed to paying for the companies infrastructure!

Piratemonkey 1:16 pm 10 Jan 10

@milsey2010 I think they only move power underground when the above ground powerpoles reach end of life. They also expect the home owner to cover the cost in one of two ways.

A friend in Kaleen got a letter last year, stating this was the plan from memory. Either upfront $10000 (i think that was the figure) or they add the cost onto your electricty bill for the next X number of years plus interest.

Roger_Duck 3:23 pm 09 Jan 10

A good majority of the main infrastructure of street lighting in Canberra, and everywhere else in the country for that matter, is powered by 240V or 415V. The bases of these lighting poles contain control gear that start up and illuminate the lamp. Old powerpole street lights are still connected to a line fed from a transformer. Furthermore, the use of proposed LED street lighting will still require a main supply of 240V or higher.

The mini pillars do act as a distribution point, however, depending on locations and if three phase power is required, may only contain fuse links for two houses only.

The average amperage supply to a domestic dwelling is usually from 63-100 Amps, dependent upon what’s actually in the house’s power requirements. Such as three phase air conditioning etc.

As for underground cabling versus overhead, it’s always been a sticky debate between linesman of numerous backgrounds. Overhead cables (streets and HV lines) are predominantly aluminium, with some alternatives from a point of attachment on an external pole for domestic supply made from copper.

Costs are comparable, however there is more involved work in an underground installation.

Just to cast a line out there as well, the apparent “incompetence” of ACTEWAGL or any other contracting firm may just be another person’s misunderstanding. Sometimes what a person may think is a good idea, where power is concerned, may not always be feasible.

As a community service announcement REMEMBER these always:
One flash and you’re ash!

Watch out for overhead powerlines.

Don’t be foolhardy and think because there is a red for positive and black for negative on your car means it’s the same in a house!

ALL Electrical work, including installations, must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor.

niftydog 9:35 am 08 Jan 10

richardh9935, that makes perfect sense, but doesn’t seem to fit my scenario.
The double cable goes between the two poles in my backyard and that’s it. The only line that leaves my block appears to be a single cable.

Anywho, hardly one of life’s great mysteries…

richardh9935 9:49 pm 07 Jan 10

And about those TransACT cables.

It’s all about networking, and where the nodes are. The signal must start at the centre of the network, and go out to many nodes, like a spider web. When it gets to a major node, it spreads out again, to get to the next node. Sometimes, the path from a major node to a minor node is along the original path. Just a co-incidence.

richardh9935 9:46 pm 07 Jan 10

In WA, in the ’60s, PMG put the telephone lines underground, because they suffered less breaks that way. Even wayward farmers caused less damage than wind and trees.

In Darwin, above-ground power lines kill flying foxes (aka fruit bats) which land on them. The FFs die quickly, but they stink quickly, too, and no-one removes them. They can take two weeks to drop off the lines.

Canberra probably started using below-ground power because it was trendy, or they were envious of the gas companies. (Imagine gas lines on poles and in trees. hmm.). All the other power suppliers were doing it. However, in Evatt, areas of below-ground power arrived before gas, and well before cable TV or internet. That made these later services very difficult to install.

busgirl 7:02 pm 07 Jan 10

troll-sniffer said :

Damn. Busgirl has cracked the secret. The hum, as any good Dr Who fan knows, is a clever method of planting left-wing ideology into suburban brains via a process of remote ethereal sublimation.

Labor currently hold the rights to the technology but I believe Tony Abbott is desperately looking for a way to get hold of it.

What the ruddy rudd are you rudding about? I’ve never heard a rudder load of bullrudd in my whole ruddy life…

niftydog 6:00 pm 07 Jan 10

While the discussion is merrily derailing itself and there appears to be some knowledgeable people here I thought I’d go fishing for answers to these questions.

I figure the electricity wires are installed according to an Aus Standard, right?
Similarly for the Transact lines?
Anyone know which Aus. Standard specifically covers the Transact installation?

And on a more frivolous note – why are there TWO Transact-type cables strung across my backyard when everywhere else I have looked there’s only one?!

milsey2010 4:24 pm 07 Jan 10

Chop71: where did you get the figure of 2.5% value to the property?

I’d like to get the ones at the back of my place buried underground – as it obstructs our view – but can find anyone who will do it or even get a quote for costs. I just keep getting bounced between ACTEW and TRANSACT and URBAN SERVICES.

Grail 2:17 pm 07 Jan 10

Where in Canberra is street lighting powered by above-ground cables?

I can think of some footpaths that have lighting powered by above-ground cables, but I’m drawing a blank when it comes to figuring out where there are above-ground cables on the street side of houses…

troll-sniffer 12:09 pm 07 Jan 10

Damn. Busgirl has cracked the secret. The hum, as any good Dr Who fan knows, is a clever method of planting left-wing ideology into suburban brains via a process of remote ethereal sublimation.

Labor currently hold the rights to the technology but I believe Tony Abbott is desperately looking for a way to get hold of it.

switch 9:55 am 07 Jan 10

busgirl said :

…I have one of those grey/green sub-stations out the front of my place…and yes on a quiet summer evening when I have my window open I can hear it hum…hmmm, is it safe having something that powerful so close to me each night while I sleep?

Just put your tinfoil hat on, then you’ll be safe.

Back in the real world, do you panic about all the wiring in your house? Use a mobile phone? Watch an old style CRT TV? You are a lot closer to that stuff than a green box outside and they all give off (more or less) harmless radiation, too.

Chop71 1:34 am 07 Jan 10

Underground powerlines add approx 2.5% to the value of property.

I hate power lines grrr and even worse TransACT cables.

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