Our commitment to the environment
Whether we’re out in the field or in the office, our activities can impact on the environment and we’re committed to reducing this where we can. Our proactive approach to engaging with various stakeholders helps us reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainability through a number of initiatives.
We engage local stakeholders and community groups to minimise the impact of our work on Aboriginal, historical, natural and industrial sites or places. We also have procedures in place should an artefact or site of significance be discovered during system maintenance or construction works.
We have a robust process in place to allow us to respond to incidents rapidly and manage environmental impacts. If an incident has, or could, cause harm to the environment our Network Operations Centre will dispatch our emergency response team to contain any spills. Field staff and project managers are also trained to manage other environmental incidents should they occur.
We continue to improve our environmental sustainability by implementing programs and initiatives such as:
- lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions – we’re investigating and investing in the use of renewable energy and battery storage
- waste and recycling systems – our landfill diversion rate across all our sites is approximately 76%
- a Circular Economy model – we use, recover and regenerate products and materials
- Sustainable Procurement – we make purchasing decisions based on the entire life cycle of the goods and services
- green IT initiatives – we’ve implemented efficiency projects including print management, server racks and the reselling/recycling of redundant equipment
- efficient property maintenance and development – we use energy efficient lighting and air conditioning, solar panels and water sensitive urban design principles where possible
- fleet initiatives – electric and hybrid cars and trucks make up part of our private fleet (the largest in South Australia)
- water efficiency initiatives – the use of rainwater, efficient appliances and fittings, and reuse of wastewater help to reduce our water consumption.
Our Environment branch provides up-to-date practical advice and assistance on a wide range of topics to our Customer Relations team, Project Managers and staff working in the field. These topics may include:
- Native vegetation
- Contaminated soil
- Aboriginal and European cultural heritage
When we are planning a project or designing assets like powerlines or substations, we aim to avoid areas of native vegetation altogether and minimise any clearing that must occur. We also re-vegetate areas cleared or in suitable locations to offset the impact.
We have an ongoing program of assessment and remediation of historical and incident related contamination of depot sites, substations and other sites throughout South Australia. This program helps to detect site contamination from previous uses or because of our current or past operations.
We conduct substation audits each year to assess our oil-filled assets (such as high voltage transformers and insulators) against safety, condition and environmental criteria. We also check for PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination from old transformers and circuit breakers.
Substations located close to homes, offices, waterways or conservation areas or considered high risk and may require the installation of bunding (a type of wall) around transformers to protect the surrounding area from a leak.
One of the wonderful things about living in South Australia is its wildlife. We have an abundance of Native and non-Native birds and animals, but sometimes they will interact with SA Power Networks’ electrical infrastructure. Unfortunately, this can harm or kill the animal, damage electrical assets and interrupt supply.
What is SAPN doing about wildlife interacting with electrical infrastructure?
Our electricity distribution network stretches across South Australia, comprising thousands of kilometres of powerline and hundreds of substations. Wildlife such as birds, possums, and Grey Headed Flying Foxes (bats) will utilize our infrastructure to nest, roost or access food sources. To mitigate against the risk of harm to wildlife and power outages, we implement a range of measures such as:
- Maintaining a robust Environmental Management System including procedures for managing wildlife;
- Installing possum guards (which look like a frisbee) on lines to stop animals climbing on them;
- Regularly inspecting substations and other infrastructure to identify and relocate/remove nests;
- Installing nest rings (which look like basketball hoops) on Stobie poles to offer birds an alternative location to build their nests;
- Removing Rod Air Gaps and other ‘problematic’ equipment from powerlines to minimize the risk of electrocution of Grey Headed Flying Foxes (bats);
- Working closely with Fauna Rescue, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and consultant ecologists to ensure that the welfare of wildlife is being appropriately managed during work activities; and
- Engaging specialist ecologists to undertake fauna assessments and develop management plans for projects at sensitive sites.