The Age: East West Link to need large power switching station in Royal Park area. September 30, 2014. Josh Gordon, Clay Lucas
Building and operating the East West Link will consume so much electricity that the government is planning a “large” new power switching station for the Royal Park area.
Raising further questions about the government’s determination to lock the project in before the November 29 election, The Age can reveal tunnelling for the East-West Link will not start for more than a year-and-a-half, with the project lacking the power supply needed to drive the massive boring machines.
A Linking Melbourne Authority briefing document warns “substantial augmentation” of the power supply will be needed to build and operate the road, including a “large” power switching station “in the Royal Park area”.
“The amount of power required to service the tunnel-boring machine is higher than the current network can provide and accordingly special arrangements need to be put in place,” the briefing says.
“Substantial augmentation is required to the CitiPower and SP Ausnet network to provide the power requirement … during construction and ongoing operation of the new tunnel.”
The memorandum, written for the authority’s chief executive, Ken Mathers, identifies the power supply problem as being one of three “long lead” issues “critical to the timely delivery” of the road.
The document, signed by Mr Mathers in April this year, warns various upgrades to boost the network could take up to a year-and-a-half to complete.
“This process requires an approximate lead time of up to 12 to 18 months, with six months required for the design process and a further six to 12 months required for the build.”
The latest revelations raise questions about the government’s claim that contracts must be signed before the November 29 election so that work can begin immediately.
A spokeswoman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder said there was no risk of delay to the project.
“The tunnel-boring machines will not start working until 20 months after the project has started,” she said. “They will be ordered and manufactured specifically for the East West Link tunnels before this happens.”
The need for a temporary and permanent power supply for the construction and operation of the tunnel was raised by all three of the consortiums bidding to build the project.
A spokeswoman for CitiPower confirmed an upgrade of the network would be required, describing the discussion with the government as “preliminary”.
“As with any major project of this size CitiPower has had preliminary discussions with interested consortiums and those discussions are continuing with the selected consortium,” the spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for Ausnet Services (formerly SP Ausnet) also confirmed discussions were underway to provide suitable options.
So far there does not appear to have been any public discussion about the need for a large new switching station in the Royal Park area.
Professionals Australia, which represents thousands of engineers, has warned the project is being rushed for political purposes.
Its spokesman, Bede Payne, said the memo highlighted the problems that had arisen with the Napthine government’s “complete lack of transparency”.
Mr Payne said engineers had concerns about the project from its inception.
“They are concerned that politicians are in a ribbon-cutting frenzy and are ignoring technical advice. They are concerned that the community is in the dark,” Mr Payne said.