Scotland Island and West Pittwater reliability project

 Scotland Island

Ausgrid is planning to improve the reliability of the local power supply to Scotland Island and West Pittwater (Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and Southern Morning Bay) following extended power outages.

Project need

Two 11,000 volt submarine cables currently supply Scotland Island and the West Pittwater.  Ausgrid has been considering a broad range of options aimed at improving energy security to the area following extended power outages in December 2013 and February 2015.

Project planning

Ausgrid has already implemented a range of measures to improve the reliability of the power supply, while investigating longer term options.  Works completed include replacing/repairing sections of the two existing cables to prevent future outages associated with exposure of the cable.  

Ausgrid has also reviewed response times to outages in the area, and has made a number of improvements including better sourcing arrangements for barges and generators, increased storage of equipment on site, and better access to information on weather, road and maritime conditions.

The possibility of reconfiguring the existing submarine cable to overhead network connection at Scotland Island to provide more network flexibility and responsiveness in the case of outages is also being investigated.

As Ausgrid plans this project, there are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • community impacts
  • availability of space around existing utility services
  • environmental and heritage impacts
  • cost (minimising the impact on customer electricity bills)
  • technical feasibility
  • traffic impacts including acess to wharfs and local roads
  • stakeholders who may be uniquely impacted by temporary power disruptions or construction..

Project investigations

Since the major outage in 2015, there have been six smaller outages on Scotland Island and West Pittwater. These have been associated with storm events or vegetation coming into contact with overhead networks and have not been related to the submarine power cables.  Access and safety issues to both locations have been a challenge in the event of outages, and contribute to the time taken to restore electrical power.

Ausgrid is currently working to gain a better understanding of the cause of local outages. This includes assessing the specific environments of Scotland Island and West Pittwater which has revealed that planning an effective long term solution is more complex and difficult than first realised.

Initially, Ausgrid considered installing an 11,000 Volt cable between Scotland Island and Little Lovett Bay.  After further investigation, Ausgrid has identified the need for more analysis to ensure the final solution jointly addresses the above ground network outages, which are the cause of the more recent outages, as well as those caused by cable damage.This analysis has included considering the following factors; latest available technology, environmental and safety standards plus value for our electricity customers.  Community feedback is also an important part of this process and Ausgrid is seeking local information from the communities of Scotland and West Pittwater as part of the project planning process.

Project approval process and environmental assessment

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Ausgrid is the determining authority for this project. An environmental assessment will be prepared on the  works in accordance with Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Clause 228 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

Community engagement

Community feedback was sought in March 2017 to assist the project team better understand household energy usage as well as local resident information. While Ausgrid understands the energy levels required to be met at various stages of the year, we needed to better understand how household usage patterns and devices contribute to this load.

Ausgrid has also been meeting with key stakeholders including Northern Beaches Council, emergency response teams, local and federal Members of Parliament and community group representatives to collect feedback and provide a project update. 

Project team representatives also held a drop in session at The Waterfront Café at Church Point to answer questions about the survey, project planning so far, and to talk to local community members.

The community feedback (including survey responses) is assisting Ausgrid to confirm the feasibility of several options currently being considered. Ausgrid will then present these options for comment and input at local community sessions planned for mid-2017. A summary of community feedback received and how it has been considered can be viewed via the link at the top right of this page. 

To find out more or provide feedback to Ausgrid, please get in touch via the contacts on the right of this page.

Next steps

We had a good response to our community feedback survey in terms of participation and Ausgrid would like to thank all residents who provided their time and comments. These responses are assisting Ausgrid to confirm the feasibility of several options currently being considered. These options will be presented for comment and feedback at local community sessions planned for mid-2017.

For example, one of the important pieces of feedback we have received is regarding septic and waste-water pumps.  Considering how these are impacted when there is an outage is important to residents, Council and emergency response crews.  As Ausgrid is also improving our operational responses and processes to the off shore communities of Scotland Island and West Pittwater, this type of detailed information could assist to prioritise responses during an unplanned outage.

A summary of community feedback received and how it has been considered has been prepared and can be viewed via the link at the top right of this page.