Melbourne underground network revamped to future-proof power needs


In anticipation of growing electricity demand in Melbourne’s CBD as its population increases, electrification expands and the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is predicted to surge, Victorian electricity distributor CitiPower has started upgrade work on a high voltage cable tunnel under the city.

The three-year $24 million upgrade is intended to future proof the city’s electricity supply, with crews having begun works on one of the Melbourne’s largest underground tunnels, which carries high voltage cables powering large parts of the CBD.

The tunnel, first built in the 1930s and stretching 80 metres beneath Little Queen Street, is being upgraded to secure the structure for another century, while also allowing room for greater power flows as the city grows.

The tunnel upgrade is a precursor to the larger three-year revamp of a nearby zone substation that will provide greater capacity and flexibility to support both planned new developments in the city and greater electrification of existing customers across the CBD.

CitiPower Major Projects Project Manager Mal Harrison

Image: Powercor

CitiPower Head of Network Planning Andrew Dinning said demand across Melbourne CBD is expected to increase by at least 60% over the coming decade, with demand set to grow from its current peak of 470 MW from recent years to more than 700 MW.

“Melbourne is growing, and we are continuing to develop the infrastructure that is essential for powering our city into the future,” he said.

“This major upgrade will allow us to maintain the reliable, flexible and secure power supply that is critical to our city’s economy, future growth and clean energy transition.”

CitiPower said the works to upgrade the tunnel beneath Little Queen Street would be complete within a month before the broader power upgrade project could begin.

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