Mobile substation on the move

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Upgrading and maintenance work on Powerco’s 115 zone substations will be streamlined with the delivery of a new mobile substation this week.

The striking $2.2 million vehicle was built in Greymouth where it was partially wrapped with Powerco branding. It was trialled on the Westpower network two weeks ago before leaving for its Whanganui base where it will be further tested.

Service Delivery and Systems Operations general manager, Ian Skipworth, said the mobile would be a valuable tool for Powerco.

“It will simply allow us to bypass zone substations during planned maintenance and upgrades,” he said.

“From a safety angle contractors will no longer work near live equipment, it removes the pressure to complete maintenance within a scheduled outage time and the complexity of providing a back-feed supply is not an issue any more.”

Eliminating the need for planned outages during substation work was a game changer.

“The mobile substation can also be connected to the network without any interruption to supply. That is good news for communities who have suffered in the past. Hiring expensive standby generators during will no longer be necessary.”

It also means the SAIDI and SAIFI impact will be minimized for our customers when substation work is undertaken. A team of Downer contractors would be trained to operate the mobile for Powerco.

“Only seven of those 29 companies own their own mobile substations. Those that don’t have already shown interest in using ours.”

The mobile was designed by Mitton ElectroNet in Christchurch and built by sister company, ElectroNet Services

Facts snapshot:

  • Power bypasses zone substations and flows through the mobile

  • Allows safe maintenance and installation work on zone substations

  • No disruption during switching from normal supply to the mobile substation

  • Eliminates the need for lengthy planned outages during substation work

  • Can be deployed in the event of major unplanned substation faults

  • Powerco maintains 115 zone substations on its network

  • Mobile substation weighs 38 tonne and is 15.7m long

  • Specifications allow unrestricted movement on New Zealand roads

  • Engineered to withstand the shocks of road travel

  • Trained team of contractors oversee each mobile installation

  • Only takes a day to set mobile up at most sites