1 June 2023

Work starts on new power transmission lines project for HMAS Harman upgrade

| Andrew McLaughlin
Join the conversation

One of the new power transmission line towers along Canberra Avenue west of HMAS Harman.

Regular users of Canberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive at Symonston may have noticed a number of large poles being positioned alongside these major arterials in recent days.

The poles are part of a major upgrade project for HMAS Harman, the Royal Australian Navy’s communications base located against the eastern edge of the ACT next to Queanbeyan.

Once erected, 28 new poles standing between 21 and 32 metres high with a span of between 120 metres and 210 metres will support a 3.6 km-long extension of the 132 kV transmission line from the existing East Lake to Gilmore transmission line, which runs west of the Monaro Highway.

The extension will run from near the southwestern corner of Hindmarsh Drive and the Monaro Highway, along the southern side of Hindmarsh Drive to its junction with Canberra Avenue, then along the southern side of Canberra Avenue to a new substation at Harman.

READ ALSO ‘We don’t know for sure’: Evoenergy lays bare how it’s trying to prepare Canberra’s network for uptick in EVs

HMAS Harman is a critical link in the Royal Australian Navy’s communications network and an administrative centre for Navy personnel in the Canberra region.

The communications elements include the Naval Communications Area Master Station Australia (NAVCAMSAUS); Naval Communications Station (NAVCOMMSTA) Canberra, which provides UHF military satellite communications and high-frequency radio communications for the Australian Defence Force (ADF); and Defence Network Operations Centre (DNOC) which provides support for ADF military operations. Combined, these are known as NAVCAMSAUS Command.

Harman is also home to two Army Reserve units, a Naval Cadet unit, and the Royal Australian Air Force’s No 28 Squadron reserve unit.

Like many of the ADF’s bases, Harman is currently undergoing redevelopment, including new and refurbished office accommodation, an upgraded and expanded base entry precinct, and refurbished live-in accommodation. It will also include new data storage, upgraded communications and intelligence facilities, and associated large-scale cooling and air systems.

Despite suffering delays and cost blowouts during the early stages of the redevelopment, the works have been exempted from parliamentary review due to their sensitive nature. The new works are part of a later stage of the project and believed to have been designed in part by Defence’s wider Joint Project 9131 Cyber Capability Facility Project.

READ ALSO Lockheed Martin selected for Defence satellite communications project

A 2019 tender document states: “Continuous and uninterrupted power supply is essential to support Harman’s communication capabilities.

“The power supply augmentation requirement under project … is to enable Defence to meet its objective for Harman to convert from (the current 11 kV low voltage) to (a 132 kV high voltage) supply arrangement.”

A 2022 environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared by GHD Pty Ltd on behalf of Evoenergy states: “The project would allow Evoenergy to supply Defence with electricity necessary to support future operational requirements at Harman.

“The existing electrical infrastructure is inadequate to support the anticipated load required. This large step increase in power supply is required to support Harman and Defence’s mission and purpose to defend Australia and its national interests.”

Construction is scheduled from 7 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday, and 8 am to 6 pm on Sundays and public holidays. The works are expected to be complete by early 2024.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Shane Quokka3:12 pm 27 Jan 24

The lines are 132KV, it’s too much voltage for underground lines.

These transmission towers may be an eye sore but I’m sure a cost benefit analysis was run to put them underground. I for one don’t want the service fee to increase to pay for that.

Shane Quokka3:10 pm 27 Jan 24

I don’t think 132KV lines can be put in underground.
The voltage is too high that the insulation will start becoming ridiculously large.
This is why 415v lines, the ones that go to your house and 11KV lines, the ones that power the transformers, can be underground.
But go higher KV and you need air as the insulator.

If the tender document called for “Continuous and uninterrupted power supply is essential to support Harman’s communication capabilities” then why weren’t these put underground. A good storm and a large tree or two can easily knock these out. I think someone is doing this on the cheap.

Capital Retro7:24 pm 03 Jun 23

China owns 25% of the grid that supplies the power so potentially, they could flick a switch and Harman is off the air.

Massive amounts of power, but not from renewables

Capital Retro3:14 pm 02 Jun 23

Given the strategic importance of HMAS (all the details except the codes are in the article) I would have thought that energy supply would have been secured underground.

It’s not far from the new “big battery” too – whoops, did I disclose a secret? Will I get the midnight knock?

William Newby7:35 am 02 Jun 23

To be powered by unicorns and rainbows no doubt?

I assume that the poles will have some sort of protection from cars running off the road and hiring them?

Suggest you have a friend drive your car past these power poles while you take a few pictures of them from the passenger’s seat. I can assure you even a fully loaded SUV with a tonne of concrete sleepers in the tray wouldn’t put a dent in any of these poles. They have a base diameter of 1.2 to 1.5 metres !

The bases of all these structures are around 1.5 metres in diameter. No car/bus/SUV is going to put even a dent in these poles.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.