ENERGEX has flicked the switch on a major upgrade of Gympie's power supply, with 21,500 households and businesses in the region now benefiting from improved reliability and increased electrical capacity.
The $23 million project followed an intense local campaign in 2010-11 to turn around an original Energex plan to install high voltage overhead power lines through Gympie.
Twice as expensive, but a win for the community, the upgrade includes the construction of a new substation at Pine St, installation of 4.2km of 33,000 volt underground cables between the new substation and Energex's other Gympie substation in Wises Rd, and maintenance work on the local overhead electrical network.
Energex's North Coast asset manager Steven Lynch thanked the Gympie community for its input into the project and patience while the upgrade took place.
"Gympie residents, businesses and stakeholders provided a great deal of constructive feedback on the original project plans, resulting in a complete re-design of the network upgrade," he said.
"The end result is very positive, with customers in the Gympie area benefiting from a more reliable electricity supply that will meet their needs for many years in the most community and environmentally friendly way possible.
"We also thank the community for their patience during the construction phase of the project which was delayed due to weather and technical difficulties.
"Energex also thanks community stakeholders, the Gympie council and Transport and Main Roads staff for their assistance in getting the project completed."
Following community feedback on the original proposal, Energex considered 12 alternatives for both overhead and underground high-voltage power supply between the two substations.
The main criteria in considering these routes included the potential impact on residents, businesses and the environment.
Also, timeframes, cost, potential construction obstacles and the ability to access the proposed network in all weather conditions, including that of floods.
The projects are part of a wider Energex program to upgrade electricity infrastructure in the Gympie and Cooloola region.
This has included $5.5 million in improvements to the Wises Rd substation, $4.3 million for the construction of a new substation at Goomboorian, and $6 million for a duplication of powerlines between Coondoo Creek and Tin Can Bay.