Some parts of our network, especially the Warrandyte and North Warrandyte areas are facing a significant issue with the possum population. These possums are using the powerlines as a highway crossing, causing outages and damage to electrical assets, which ultimately impact restoration times. To ensure reliable power supply to our customers, as well as the safety to possums and our equipment, in recent years, we’ve conducted extensive work in technical strengthening, animal proofing, and vegetation clearance on these feeders, through a large number of individual projects.
The possums however, continue to get around these devices. Often making contact with our switches, which can result in electrocution of the possum and a blown fuse, causing an outage to our customers. This then requires crews to patrol lines in bushland areas to identify and repair the fault.
Our engineering team will soon be trialling new possum barriers in the area, with the aim of trying to improve power supply reliability as well as the safety of the possums and our equipment. Discs that are 600mm in diameter will be installed on our aerial bundle cables. These are the largest diameter discs we have ever trialled in attempt to prevent the possums from getting near the electrical switch. Research shows that possums can jump a long way, but won’t jump where they can’t see. The barriers must be large enough to block a possum’s direct line of sight to its intended landing position. A 600mm diameter disc was found to be the minimum effective size. While they may appear large, they are specifically designed to deter possums that can climb almost anything, so the barrier must be impossible for a possum to climb or see over. The discs are black to blend in with the cable insulation and will be mounted on a bearing that will rotate when a possum attempts to put any weight on it, making it impossible to get a sure grip.
To avoid further inconvenience to our customers in the Warrandyte area, we will be installing these trial possum barriers the same day we already have a planned outage scheduled to replace a pole on the 18 April. We will be installing 10 of the trial possum guards on 5 poles (one either side of the switch) at sites on our network where critical switches are located in attempt to protect the supply of our customers and ensure the safety of the possums.
Above: One of the disc that will be installed on the powerlines in the Warrandyte area to deter possums from using our network as a highway crossing.
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