Project Whakareri

Ensuring electricity supply can meet demand

  • Location: Wellington
  • Year: 2021-2022

In 2021-2022, Wellington Electricity delivered important upgrades to its Frederick Street underground cables. The project, known as Project Whakareri, was designed to prepare Wellington CBD for the future, by ensuring that electricity supply meets the city’s growing demand.

As part of the project, Wellington Electricity replaced major underground cables that transported electricity from the National Grid to Wellington’s network, with modern cables with increased capacity and better earthquake resilience.

Connell Contractors was selected by Wellington Electricity to excavate existing infrastructure, install new cable ducts for two new 33kV electrical circuits, and haul the new cables through the ducts.

The cables ran 1.3km in length from Transpower’s Central Park substation to Wellington Electricity’s Frederick Street substation.

Connell Regional Manager Fabian Bracken said ‘planning and preparation’ were key to this inner-city project.

“Working in the heart of Wellington City, a significant amount of planning and preparation took place. We developed and delivered comprehensive traffic management plans to keep our people, other contractors, and the community safe,” said Fabian.

Some of the existing cables and infrastructure were laid nearly 100 years ago, adding to the complexities of the project for the Connell team.

“There were no detailed drawings and records of the existing infrastructure, so each time we opened up the ground, we didn’t know what we’d find or how deep it would be,” said Fabian.

“We often adapted plans to suit, and we worked closely with our clients to keep them informed and collaboratively solve problems,” said Fabian.

The work schedule was tightly coordinated to ensure roads could re-open each evening for peak hour traffic.

“Each day we would cut and dig up the asphalt and ground, lay the pipes, backfill, and re-asphalt. It was tightly coordinated and managed to ensure everyone could deliver their work in the short timeframes,” said Fabian.

Once the ducts were installed, cameras were pulled through the ducts to inspect every metre and clean any dirt and contaminants.

“Following that, the cables were pulled through the ducts – a methodical and precise process that took around a total of eight days to complete,” said Fabian.

Fabian said community engagement was a priority for the entire project team.

“Weekly letterbox drops kept the local community up-to-date, and a website was available for the community to check progress and see the latest information. We received positive comments from the public daily,” said Fabian.

Connell was thrilled to help deliver this important project with Wellington Electricity, helping to shape the future of Wellington.

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