Irrigator safety urged

10 January 2014
Ergon Media Release

Ergon Energy is urging cane farmers to be aware of electricity infrastructure when positioning irrigation equipment.

The warning comes after the spray from an irrigator clashed high voltage lines together on the Strathdickie high voltage feeder late last month resulting in loss of supply to 1,338 customers in the Foxdale, Strathdickie and Conway Beach areas and causing fires in two locations.

Acting Area Operations Manager Dale Schultz said power was initially lost to the area after the feeder tripped at 12.38 pm on 29/12/14 and crews attended the Kelsey Creek zone substation (that supplies the Strathdickie feeder) where a small grass fire had started in an adjacent paddock.

No fault was found with the power lines after the fire had been extinguished by emergency services and the feeder was returned to service at 1.56 pm.

The feeder again tripped shortly afterwards at 2.03 pm and crews again patrolled sections of the feeder between the zone substation and three line reclosers located at Foxdale, Myrtle Creek and Mt Julian. At around 2.15 pm crews then responded to reports of power lines on fire beside the Bruce Highway to the north of the Proserpine River Bridge.

On arrival at the scene crews found that line isolation equipment had been damaged and a spray irrigator adjacent to the site.

Crews made safe and checked for any further issues however none were found and restoration of the feeder commenced with the majority of customers reinstated at 3.21 pm. Remaining customers were back on line by 5.50 pm after damaged equipment was repaired.

“It is absolutely vital that irrigation equipment is located where it doesn’t compromise the security of supply and the safety of individuals and the general public” Mr Schultz said.

“On this occasion we had the situation where the safety of the general public, emergency service and Ergon workers was put at risk and the community had to endure an unnecessary power interruption for a prolonged period.”

Mr Schultz said that Ergon had a range of information to assist cane farmers operate their enterprises in a safe manner.https://www.ergon.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/6563/Look-up-and-Live-Irrigation-Equipment—EGE0661.pdf

http://eeonline.ergon/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/6561/Look-up-and-Live-Sugar-Cane-Farms—EGE0661.pdf

“While there had been a slight increase in the number of irrigator incidents – three so far this financial year across Ergon’s supply area, to date this financial year there had been a pleasing reduction in the number of overall cane farming incidents – 31 in 20112/13 down to 22 in 2013/14” Mr Schultz said.

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