Kangaroo Island undersea power cable energised and on standby

The new undersea power cable connecting Kangaroo Island to the mainland has been commissioned and is available to supply the Island if needed.

It is believed to be the longest continuous undersea cable to be installed in Australia across the 15km-wide Backstairs Passage from Cape Jervis to Cuttlefish Bay south of Penneshaw.

A spokesperson for SA Power Networks said the cable had been energised.

“It’s on standby while we undertake further work on the Island at Cuttlefish Bay to integrate both cables into our automated network switching systems. These works include installation of four new transmission poles at the top of the hill at Cuttlefish Bay and installing a new section of underground line to the top of the hill and installation of automated switching equipment,” he said.

The works will be completed by March 2019 and SA Power Networks will then switch ongoing daily supply to the new cable.

CABLE TERMINUS: The new Kangaroo Island undersea power cable being connected to existing infrastructure at Cuttlefish Bay south of Penneshaw earlier this year. Photo: SA Power Networks

CABLE TERMINUS: The new Kangaroo Island undersea power cable being connected to existing infrastructure at Cuttlefish Bay south of Penneshaw earlier this year. Photo: SA Power Networks

The old cable will remain in place and energised and on standby in case it is needed for any reason, he said.

“This, combined with the continued location of back up generation on the Island, which support supply when there are any upstream issues, will ensure secure and sufficient supply for Kangaroo Island well into the future,” the spokesperson said.

“The new supply will provide well in excess of anticipated peak demand growth on the island over the next 30 years,” SA Power Networks’ Mark Vincent said earlier this year. 

KI mayor Michael Pengilly at November’s council meeting brought with him sections of the new and old undersea power cable.

Looking at the cross section of the new cable, the three main copper lines and fibre optic line for communications were clearly visible.

Mr Pengilly said his view was that the new 20,000 kVA/33,000 volt cable was more than sufficient to meet the Island’s immediate and future needs.

The previous council had been lobbying for a cable with greater capacity with the proposed “KI Energy” biomass project in mind.

That project will be reviewed by the new council at an informal gathering on December 5. A specific workshop to be scheduled in New Year, in conjunction with Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber’s Memorandum of Understanding discussion.

Mr Pengilly said SA Power Networks was the best judge of what was necessary, and what was more pressing was improving the distribution network on the island.

“I’ve never had a problem with the capacity, it’s the distribution network on the Island that is the problem, particularly in the centre and western end,” he said.

“Place like the wildlife retreat and Southern Ocean Lodge have to go onto back-up generators on occasion.”

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