Conductor for the future

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 14-Dec-2017

Groundline Australia director Ian Flatley. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

A BENDIGO-based engineering firm has developed and tested the power lines it believes will replace conductors in Victoria and be used for the next 50 years.

A team of engineers in Groundline Engineering’s Bendigo office has developed conductors that will not start bush fires.

After the 2009 Black Saturday tragedy, the Victorian government has legislated to ensure powerline companies replace old conductors with insulated cable that will not ignite a fire when it comes into contact with trees or grass.

The royal commission into the Black Saturday identified old and degraded powerlines as a key threat during summer.

Groundline has finished the testing of its version to withstand Victorian conditions.

Its Swedish business partner Amokabel is preparing to manufacture the conductor in time for Australia’s next bush fire season.

If demand is high for the conductor, its manufacturing could move to Bendigo, according to Groundline director Ian Flatley.

There are competitors in the market but Groundline’s conductor was more cost effective because it didn’t require additional technology or infrastructure. Mr Flatley said powerline companies had been talking to Groundline and its manufacturer.

Those companies stand to suffer harsh penalties if they don’t use insulated cable in 33 at-risk regions.

But across Victoria, there is 84,000 kilometres of rural power lines that need to be replaced.

“They’ve served us well from the reticulation efforts over 50 years ago,” Mr Flatley said.

“Technology has moved on and community expectations are that our power is delivered safe and reliable.

“The covered conductor, we feel goes a long way to deliver this.”


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