Monday, November 12, 2012

November 2012 - Still moving forward...

The earthquake recovery for the Christchurch distribution network is moving forward with the 'pull' of eighteen 900 metre lengths of 66,000 volt cable to link McFaddens zone substation to Dallington substation. The complete run is 5km long, but due to the fact the cables will separately conduct all three phases, then 18x 900m lengths is what is needed. This is the first stage of a programme that will effectively give Christchurch a 66,000 volt 'ring circuit', which enables 'backfeeding' should one section of the circuit fail.

The McFaddens - Dallington underground 66kV circuit. Red circles are cable joints.

The cables will be laid by contractor Cable Layers, and are scheduled to commence the first stage around the 5th of December. I will cover this in my next post. 

This is the first stage in a plan by Orion to consolidate the 66kV underground Christchurch distribution network and provide an even more reliable supply of electricity to the earthquake-damaged eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

Some sections of the cable will be laid on top of steel-reinforced concrete, which will protect the cable if yet another substantial earthquake occurs, an example of 66kV oil-filled cable damage is shown in my earlier post here on the 17th March 2011.

The end for New Brighton substation

The New Brighton substation, which sank due to severe liquefaction in the February 22nd and June 13th earthquakes is finally being demolished.

The New Brighton substation before the quakes (google streetview)

The sunken transformer building in ejecta from the process of liquefaction

Ejecta (silt) around the back of 11kV circuit breakers in the New Brighton substation

The New Brighton substation being demolished

66kV cables that fed the substation were irreparably damaged in the quake, and a temporary transformer was quickly sourced from (Ilam?) substation to supplement the two transformers in their transformer buildings. 

The New Brighton substation. Temporary transformer on far left of picture.


A temporary 66kV pole circuit was designed by Roger Sutton and his team (then CEO of Orion) using a marker pen on a printed Google Maps map, which was approved by the emergency Civil Defence controller, who was in charge at the time due to a national state of emergency being in effect. A three-year grace was given, after which time, the normal consent process to retain the poles would have to be observed.

Map of the pole circuits installed after 22nd February 2011

Contracting firms built the 5km long pole circuit in an incredible 2 weeks, effectively shortcutting the normal process to construct such a circuit by at least 18 months, and succeeded in getting a large amount of quake-affected customers' power back on. Unfortunately it took much longer to get all the power back on, as would be expected from a disaster of that magnitude.

Rapid work then began on building a new zone substation at Rawhiti Domain, an area not affected by liquefaction to replace New Brighton substation.  The 66kV temporary circuit from Grid Exit Point (GXP) Bromley was extended to Rawhiti in June 2011. Rawhiti substation was opened on the 14th February 2012.

The new Rawhiti substation

Eventually both the 66kV pole circuits installed rapidly after the Feburary 22nd 2011 earthquake will be replaced with new underground cables, completing the 'ring circuit'.

So ends an era for New Brighton substation. It supplied Christchurch's eastern suburbs for many good years, yet another victim of the February 22nd 2011 earthquake.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 2012 - Quake-damaged 66kV cable replacement nearly underway

Good news.. Orion is not far away from starting to replace the 66kV quake-damaged underground power cables. See here for the story from SCIRT. I'll do my best to get photos and video of the laying, jointing and terminating of these circuits. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 2012 - Faults still coming in..

It has been a long time in between posts for me.. A busy time!

CPIT Electrical had nearly 100 applications for a 16-place midyear intake for the Pretrade Electrician class. We put two more classes on and are teaching 48 as a consequence. HOPEFULLY the housing rebuild will start soon (its shown no signs so far) and all these students will hopefully gain apprenticeships.

Steve from Connetics texted me on Friday night to say that he had to repair another 11kV cable fault on an earthquake damaged cable. It has been 18 months since the Feb 22 2011 Magnitude 6.3 earthquake and the damage to the underground network is still being repaired.

11kV PILC aluminium cable (with pen for scale)
The 11kV PILC (paper insulated, lead covered) with HDPE (high density polyethylene) came from Kotuku Crescent in Woolston. Once again the classic 'kink' appears in an underground cable.

In a media release, distribution network owner/operator Orion stated that from all earthquakes, the total repair bill will exceed NZ$70,000,000. Orion has also spent NZ$54,000,000 on capital projects since the Canterbury earthquakes started. This included building a new major substation in New Brighton to replace a quake-damaged substation which sank two metres into the ground in the 2011 February earthquake.

The liquefaction-sunk New Brighton substation


Mr Craig Boyce (Chairman of Orion) says that Orion is strongly committed to helping the rebuild of the city.
“We have earmarked $870m in spending over the next ten years, and we intend to stay flexible
on exactly where this money goes so that it supports whatever rebuilding plans are decided on.”

Orion has also taken ownership of the Papanui substation and associated lines from Islington substation as part of a long-term strategy to improve the efficiency and reliability of Christchurch’s electricity supply.
A new 'large high voltage'(I'm guessing 66kV) will also be installed to link St Albans substation to the Dallington substation, giving the Network better flexibility to supply Dallington and its surrounding suburbs.

Orion are also considering options to replace the 66kV temporary overhead line from Bromley to Dallington substations installed in April 2011 that replaced the earthquake-damaged 66kV oil-filled cables.



My pretrade Electrical Supply class are well on their way to completing the year successfully, this week going on a 'Generation tour' courtesy of Meridian to see Waitaki and Benmore hydro dams, the start of the Interisland HVDC link at Benmore, White Hills windfarm and the Meridian control centre. They're VERY excited (and so am I!)! They are at the Generation project stage of the course at the moment, so this will be extremely beneficial for them.


My pretrade Electrical Supply class with a photovoltaic system donated by Meridian for their power generation project. Left to right: Stephen Price, Electrical and Plumbing Line Manager, Karen Te Puke, TII Head of Department, Evan Lousley, Meridian Training manager, the class and me!

I'm also teaching part of a course for Cable Layers with employees from Connetics, Independent Lines Services, and Electricity Ashburton. I'm enjoying the competitive banter and sometimes learning from them as well! 

On a personal note, I presented at the start of the month twice; once 'Pecha Kucha' style at the ITF Annual Conference, and an hour-long presentation to help 'kick off' CPIT's Research month.
 For the CPIT presentation, I had the honour of presenting immediately after Dr. Mark Quigley from Canterbury University. He spoke about research Canterbury was undertaking with regard to the Canterbury earthquakes, and I spoke about how my Academic Study Leave experience was being integrated into student learning, and how successful this blog is! See below for my 'Pecha Kucha' presentation.



We're still fighting here in Christchurch to go forward. But as the author of this great article says, it's the people that are the future of Christchurch.

Take Care, All.

Andrew















Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 - Moving forward?

Well, a new year is upon us. Mayans? Nah!

Things that have happened since the last post (not in any particular order):


  • 23rd December 2011 a Magnitude 6 earthquake occurred in the Christchurch area, initiating a swarm of quakes offshore, prompting tsunami concerns and the GNS to report the aftershocks could go on for decades. Being only 3km from the epicentre, our house received further damage, as well as thousands more. The quake was extremely violent and knocked my wife off her feet even though she was bracing herself in a doorway. Scary stuff.
  • Red Zones have been announced around Canterbury, in which property owners have been offered 2007 Rateable Value prices for their properties by CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority), a New Zealand Government Department established due to the quakes with Roger Sutton as CEO. Our own property was declared blue/green zone, which means we could rebuild, but with a stronger foundation and after a geotech report on our property's viability in future earthquakes has been compiled by a geologist. Mainzeal, our insurance companies' main contractor is apparently 'waiting for the earthquakes to stop', before commencing rebuilding.
Quake destroyed house - New Brighton

  • I have given two presentations on my experiences during my Academic Study Leave (ASL), one to a joint CPIT/Canterbury Electrical Association, and one to the Canterbury Electrical Association's AGM. 


  • Professor Watson also introduced me to Professor Venayagamoorthy from The Missouri University of Science and Technology, who is a worldwide leading authority on 'Smart power networks'. I gave both Professors a tour of our Sullivan Ave campus. CPIT and I have given both Professors authority to use my ASL photos in their very valuable work. In December, Professor Watson gave me a tour of the Canterbury University Electrical Engineering department, which was fantastic!
Professor Venayagamoorthy and me at the CPIT Tradefit site

  • I applied to have my ASL work classed as research at CPIT under the title 'Learning Cable Jointing and Line Mechanic work during the Canterbury earthquakes', asking the question; "What are the educational benefits of collecting and analyzing multimedia evidence of workplace skills to inform the development of new courses?". As part of this I have submitted an abstract with a view to presenting at the New Zealand Vocational Education and Training (VET) Research Forum in Wellington in April.

  • I attended the 2011 ESITO annual Lines Competition and Awards dinner at Mystery Creek in Hamilton with my Manager, Stephen Price. 
ESITO Lines Comp Lineys going hard

Me at Geonet

Geonet reception wall - flash gear!

The famous Sara from Geonet!

  • I completed the Diploma in Tertiary Learning and Teaching 604 course 'Applied Learning Project', based on my ASL experience and written conclusions. Thanks Selena!

  • My wife and I attended a Connetics 'thank you dinner' at the RNZAF Air Force Museum in Christchurch we were generously invited to. It was a fantastic night dining amongst the fantastic aircraft in superb company for a superb company!
A4K Skyhawk at the RNZAF Museum, Christchurch.

  • I gained promotion from 'Academic Staff Member' to 'Senior Academic Staff Member' at CPIT although one of my colleagues, who I thought would get promoted ahead of myself did not, which I was very confused and disappointed about. 


So a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Poor Christchurch (and Canterbury) have been nailed again by yet another major earthquake with yet more damage, but thanks to power network reinforcing, there were few outages. The Rawhiti Substation, which replaced the sunken New Brighton substation is open now. The power reliability has been good. Not perfect, but good, which is good(?) considering the current environment.

Rawhiti Substation (now complete)

CPIT for the rest of 2011 was 'flat stick'. Due to contractual negotiations being difficult, one of the CPIT unions engaged random strike action, which made life difficult, as all staff and students were stressed (as well as the rest of Canterbury) and emotion was high. 

I have so far received no 'green light' to start development of Cable Jointing or Line Mechanic courses, however, I have been doing work on this in my own time. CPIT are in the process of employing two more staff into our department, which will hopefully help to ease the load. Unfortunately no Cable Jointers or Line Mechanics have applied for these jobs, as they seem reluctant to apply for jobs in the academic profession, as they have also done for the last 6 years, which is a shame.

In 2012 I am continuing to teach CTC (Canterbury Tertiary College) and 'Youth Guarantees' students. My Manager tells me it will be an unbelievably busy year. We have our normal courses, CTC, Youth Guarantees, and also special Maori and Pacific Island electrical students to teach this year.  
My Manager also instructed me to take all my leave now, as time off during the year will not be allowed, so I'm having a big holiday now, but with no more until December 2012, which is a shame, as my wife Emma can't take any as leave her work is so busy at the moment. 

I hope everybody who reads this has a prosperous 2012, and fingers crossed for Canterbury that the quakes stop and the rebuild hopefully begins soon. It has to sometime!

Finally, here's a tribute video to the Christchurch power workers I made:



Cheers, Andrew 

Christmas decorated chemical toilet disposal container in Dallington.  YES people are still using them!