Trusted partner on transmission assets via the AusNet Services- Zinfra TOMSA

Zinfra’s new partnership agreement with AusNet Services to supply all transmission and substation operations and maintenance services for the Central, East and North West regions of Victoria came into effect in March 2020.

Within 2 years, Zinfra will become the sole operations and maintenance provider for AusNet Services’ transmission network in these regions for a period of five (5) years, with the option to extend for two further three-year periods (3+3). The Central and East regions have been awarded effective immediately with the North West region to be mobilised in 2022, if not earlier.

Under the TOMSA (Transmission Operations and Maintenance Services Agreement), as a critical part of the partnership, Zinfra has grown our 1700+ Zinfra family by bringing in 87 skilled transmission line, substation and communications employees into our Power Services team, who will continue to operate from depots in Benalla, Hazelwood, Rowville and Thomastown.

This agreement represents a significant change to AusNet Services’ delivery model which has
previously been achieved through a mix of in-house delivery and outsourcing to third-party contractors in the three regions. AusNet Services’ entire transmission network in Victoria comprises 13,000 transmission towers, 6,685km of high voltage transmission powerlines, 58 terminal/switching stations and 66 zone substations which connect and transport the power from electricity generators to distribution networks and on to all Victorian consumers.

AusNet Services has sought the relationship to develop their future state delivery model and align strategic priorities, which includes cost efficiency, greater affordability for customers and sustainable shareholder returns whilst ensuring safe delivery of works, flexibility and responsiveness to customer and business needs, and growing and managing dynamic networks. Transmission investment in Victoria is critical to support the transition to renewables and new generation resources, and fulfil demand for reliable supply of electricity. Zinfra’s role to maintain the network in Victoria is critical to the successful operation of the NEM.

Zinfra has been a trusted partner to AusNet Services on numerous transmission infrastructure projects in both regulated and unregulated sectors.
Peter Iancov - Managing Director

Peter Iancov, Managing Director of Zinfra, commented, “We are committed to building relationships with our clients and communities”. He noted, “Zinfra has been a trusted partner to AusNet Services on numerous transmission infrastructure projects in both regulated and unregulated sectors.”

These projects include the refurbishment of West Melbourne Terminal Station, modernising one of Melbourne’s key terminal stations; installation of 622km new OPGW (optical ground wire) cable to establish the North West Communications Loop which provides both grounding and communications enabling high speed data transmission capability, linking Ballarat, Horsham, Mildura and Bendigo; and connection assets for what will be Australia’s biggest wind farm with 149 turbines supplying 390,000 homes, the 530MW Stockyard Hill Wind Farm. This required construction of the new 500kV Haunted Gully Terminal Station and 78km of 132kV transmission line to transmit the power the wind farm will generate. Another major AusNet Services project is the upgrades, new zone substation and new switchyards to support Yallourn Power Station which supports major generator Loy Yang Power Station and the Yallourn open cut mine. We provide value-driven, safe, responsive and reliable service that our partners can trust.

With our appointment via the TOMSA, Zinfra will now provide ongoing services on AusNet Services’ transmission assets and substations comprising of maintenance, defects, fault response and minor capital works, leveraging the in-house expertise from our project-based work and Power Services delivery for AusNet Services and other key clients nationally. This contract is valued at approximately $18M per annum and a combination of Schedule of Rates, Target Cost and Fixed Fee mechanisms.

Through the TOMSA Zinfra also has the opportunity as a preferred partner to undertake small capital works projects such as circuit breaker replacement, protection scheme upgrades, new feeder exits, installation of connection asset transformers and switchgear (220kV/66kV, 150MVA); all classified as additional works under the agreement.

The successful transfer, induction and mobilisation of 87 Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) workers into Zinfra has taken complex planning and integration to ensure business continuity by the operational handover (March 2020). This is a significant achievement following the Formal Agreement between parties, executed on 19 February 2020.

There was a range of criteria and conditions precedence to ensure that critical activities captured in our plans were completed by the collective pursuant to enabling the transfer – this managed risk and established a secure platform for the “transfer of business” to occur. This included training to ensure skills, competencies and safety compliance with Zinfra’s policy framework, managed by Zinfra’s Technical Training team. bThe successful transfer has been achieved for all 87 employees to Zinfra including ASA, ETU and EA employees with zero IR disputes involving Zinfra.

During the Transition Phase (March to September 2020), Zinfra will adopt new hardware and
integrate a new Field Service Management (FSM) system and mobility platform for the management, planning, dispatch and execution of field activities. A significant IT transitional works program has been planned and is currently underway. Zinfra will also transition all relevant works practices from AusNet Services, building on our strengths and capabilities in the Transmission space.

From September 2020, Zinfra will assume full service delivery independent of AusNet Services, completing the transition phase of the agreement. Zinfra will target further innovations under our ‘trusted partnership’ to reach planned cost reduction milestones as economies of scale are achieved through managing this state-wide service for Victoria’s transmission network.

We take a long-term perspective to our relationships and contracts. We look to understand, improve and innovate in the areas where we can add most value, with the TOMSA between Zinfra and AusNet Services a demonstration of this commitment.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.