Standby Power - Emergency Response

The Client: RIC Electrics - 2AAA, Wagga Wagga

The Background

The tragic loss of life and damage to property caused by bushfires and natural disasters in recent years led to a rethink by State and Federal governments on how best to keep rural and remote communities up to date with critical emergency service warnings and information.

The Federal Government Agency – Emergency Management Australia (EMA) was tasked with coordinating governmental response to emergency incidents and implement fail-safe emergency management capabilities throughout the country.

As part of the strategy Government grants were made available to community groups to assist with the upgrading of communications infrastructure to ensure that in the event of a mains power outage during storms, fire and other natural disasters communication of vital information could be maintained with residents in the effected areas.

Wagga Wagga based community radio station 2AAA FM responded to their local listeners concerns and applied to EMA in 2007 for a grant to install two emergency power generators.

With a broadcast footprint that takes in portions of the NSW Riverina and South West Slopes weather districts black spots the application for funding was approved and the station’s management set about the daunting task of finding the right solution.

According to 2AAA’s Operations Manager, Chris Jacobson, being a community radio station they don’t have the resources on-tap, so they looked for a supplier who could provide a turn-key solution.

The Requirement

After preparing a scope of works that included a generator for the radio station and one for the broadcast tower, the ancillary electrical switching and wiring work and assistance with the complicated compliance conditions that came with the grant they approached a number of local electrical companies for quotes.

“We received three tenders for the project but in the end local company RIC Electrics demonstrated a better level of understanding of our requirements, while still delivering an extremely competitive turn-key solution and assistance with the compliance issues.

The Solution

“RIC Electrics recommended two Olympian generator sets on the basis that they were proven performers, represented exceptional value for money and were backed by the national Caterpillar network – so we’d always have access to local service and parts if required. “Once the project got underway RIC Electrics’ input into the installation of the generators really proved invaluable, even down to the positioning of the bigger generator at the radio station.

“Originally the building was built to house a generator in the basement, but on RIC Electrics’ recommendation we chose to locate it outside the building as it would greatly reduce the impact on the station’s operation when the generator was running. “And while initially we were concerned about the potential impact the noise might have on our surrounding neighbours RIC Electrics assured us that the Olympian’s sound enclosures were the best on the market – and they were correct. We haven’t had any negative feedback even when we’ve had to run the generators for 2 days straight.

“The original plan was to run both generators for short periods every month and then run them under load for extended periods every 2 months. But as it turned out the region was hit by a number of severe storms that wiped out power to the town, so they’ve been put to the test on a regular basis and have enabled us to continue to broadcast important information to the community that they’d otherwise not have had access to.

The Results

“RIC Electrics support throughout the entire process was exceptional and their tradesman ship in all aspects of the project was excellent, while the Olympian generators have performed as we were told they would and have really paid for themselves in the short time we’ve had them by keeping us on air,” Chris said.

Chris Orban from RIC Electrics managed the project and was responsible for designing the two tailor-made systems so they would fit within the parameters of the grant 2AAA received.

According to Chris, because the broadcast tower was located at another site 2AAA required two standby emergency power systems to ensure that both the studio and the broadcast tower would remain operational during blackouts.

“Based on their equipment’s power requirements we built a solution around a single phase Olympian GEP 11SP generator to handle the broadcast tower’s amplifiers and a three phase Olympian GEP 65 generator for the studio complex.

“Rated at 11 kVA and 65 kVA, both Olympian generators were supplied on heavy duty fabricated base frames complete with inbuilt 45 and 245 litre fuel tanks respectively and housed in stateof-the-art sound attenuated enclosures.

“The project included the manufacture and installation of a new distribution board at the studio and extensive rewiring of the switching equipment at the broadcast tower, all of which was completed within 6 weeks – which in part was made possible by Energy Power Systems being able to supply the Olympian generators from stock.

“The project was not as straight forward as most when you take into account that the studio was located in a residential area and we recommended installing the bigger genset outside the building, plus the extensive documentation required to comply with the grant.

“On the noise front, we had to be certain that the Olympian’s attenuated sound enclosure was up to the task, and 12 months on they have performed brilliantly with no complaints received from neighbours,” Chris said.