Work is commencing this month on the fifth stage of a five-year, $25 million-plus project to install new conduits under footpaths throughout Brisbane CBD as part of a long-term strategy to meet the growing need for electricity in the state capital’s central business district.

The project has been planned in conjunction with Brisbane City Council's footpath improvement work and will enable the extension of electricity supplies from Energex’s city substations to CBD buildings.

The overall project commenced in August 2010 and has already resulted new electricity conduits being embedded along several CBD streets with stage one to three already completed. Work is still underway on stage four, and will run in conjunction with the stage five civil work. The latest stage will see Energex excavating sections of the footpath along parts of Adelaide and Queen Streets.

All effort will be made to minimize disruption to businesses, pedestrians and traffic movement, while at the same time ensuring a safety-first approach to the works.

Some of inner Brisbane's underground electricity conduits and pipes date back to the 1900s and many of these pipes have limited space or are not suitable to accommodate modern cables.

Currently, providing additional power supplies to offices and residential complexes often takes many months, or even years, due to the congestion of power cables, sewage, water, telecommunications and other equipment underneath the city’s roads and footpaths.

Having additional conduits will greatly enhance the speed with which new power supplies can be made available for new developments or increased electricity requirements. Based on current building growth scenarios, it is expected that the project will provide enough conduits to meet requirements for the next 30 years.

Brisbane's CBD currently uses between 250 and 300 MW of electricity at peak times – roughly equivalent to the same amount of electricity that powers the entire Sunshine Coast - and that appetite is only expected to rise. For the next five years Energex is forecasting growth increases at the existing substations will range from six per cent to 18 per cent.

This project will not increase electricity capacity - just Energex’s ability to supply electricity and expand the network. The CBD conduits project is due to be completed in 2014/15.