Power lines identified as 'emerging problem' in 2007, '08 and '09, court hears

THE Colac-Camperdown power line was identified as an emerging problem two years before the Black Saturday fire at Weerite and Pomborneit. 

Peter Goode, a reliability investigation officer with Powercor, continued giving evidence yesterday before Justice Jack Forrest as part of a class action in Warrnambool against Powercor following the Black Saturday fires on February 7, 2009.

Mr Goode told the court that if it was thought there was a problem of lines clashing, it would be checked.

He said generally where there was suspected dual- circuit clashing it was in the older constructions and the possibility of clearances not being adequate.

Mr Goode agreed with counsel representing the plaintiff Andrew Fraatz that  the line had been identified as an emerging problem in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Mr Goode was handed 66- kilovolt and 22-kilovolt lines  which were removed from two power poles at the site of the Black Saturday fire.

When asked if the damage on the lines was consistent with clashing, Mr Goode said most likely.

The court heard on Wednesday that after a 2007 fire in the same area, Powercor relied on a survey completed in 2001 to ensure the lines were up to statutory standards to reduce the risk of clashing. 

The court heard Mr Goode had requested a survey of part of the line and requested design input.

Mr Goode agreed with Mr Fraatz when he suggested that in response to the 2007 fire, based on his concerns, Mr Goode requested a survey to prevent clashing in the future and he received a marked-up copy of a 2001 survey which didn’t contain the information requested.

Mr Goode also agreed that the 2001 survey was prepared for a different purpose.

Justice Forrest asked Mr Goode if there were any internal documents after the 2007 fire which would lead to a suspicion other than clashing for the cause of the fire. Mr Goode said no.

Counsel representing Powercor, Daniel Wallis, asked Mr Goode if he had concerns about the integrity of the line before February 2009. Mr Goode said no, then clarified that the line was not at risk of an outage, or was considered a risk to public safety.

He said as far as he knew the last known issue of public safety was the fire in 2007.

The court also heard evidence from Powercor electricity network asset manager Vince Power who said that, from his knowledge, clashing was not a common event.

The trial was adjourned until Monday afternoon when Mr Power is expected to continue giving evidence. 

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