Photos: ALISTAIR FINLAY
IN what some locals are describing as a mini tornado, six high-tension electricity structures were destroyed on Friday afternoon north-east of Cressy.
Towers carrying the 500 kilovolt Moorabool to Mortlake and Moorabool to Tarrone transmission lines came down, closing Colac-Ballarat Road between Rokewood and the Hamilton Highway as well as the Pitfield-Cressy Road, and resulted in warnings fences could be electrified.
The break in the line has caused significant power issues for the south-west of the state as well as knocked out electricity to some local residents.
The destruction shutdown the interconnector between Victoria and South Australia and cut the power supply to the Portland aluminium smelter.
In a statement from AusNet Services, the company responsible for the powerlines, a spokesperson said workers were bringing in equipment to construct temporary towers and weather permitting construction would start early in the week.
“We’re moving ahead with urgency due to the importance of the reconnection of the Portland aluminium smelter to the 500 kilovolt lines,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve taken immediate steps to commence design and installation of temporary towers to enable their reconnection.”
“Subject to weather conditions, we expect the construction of the temporary towers and restoration of both lines to be completed over the next two weeks. We’re aiming to have at least one line restored within a week.”
Other power companies, including Transgrid, Electranet and TasNetworks have offered AusNet Services assistance in getting the temporary towers installed.
Repair crews spent the weekend bringing in equipment to install temporary towers.
Regional Roads Victoria has set up detours via the Inverleigh-Shelford Road and Lismore-Scarsdale Road with signage marking the routes.
That authority’s regional director south west, Emma Miller-Olsen, said it was not clear how long the diversions would stay in place.
“Colac-Ballarat Road remains closed in both directions between Rokewood and the Hamilton Highway,” she said.
“This closure is under the control of emergency services and the road will be reopened when repairs are complete and it is safe to do so.
“Drivers are advised to plan ahead and allow more time for their journey between Colac and Ballarat.”
Golden Plains Shire has been assisting with elements of the emergency said CEO Eric Braslis.
With the municipality being the closest civil response resource available to emergency services at the time of the incident of Friday night, council staff were called upon to help.
“Council responded to a request from Victorian Police to assist with the emergency situation in Cressy,” said Mr Braslis.
“We had a crew straight out on-site to provide road signage to block vehicle access on the affected Vic Roads road and to clear debris from trees that came down in the heavy winds.
“Until the emergency situation is resolved, Council will keep in touch with all the responsible authorities and we are willing and able to help as required.”
When the main towers collapsed they also brought down local powerlines and that’s left some area residents without mains connected electricity.
“We were also notified that homes in the area may be without power for an extended period of time, and so we actioned a care plan to check in on vulnerable local residents to ensure their safety,” Mr Braslis said.
Power towers crash to the ground