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Keeping the bats at bay

A recent power outage caused by a bat hitting power lines is expected to become a less frequent occurrence since measures have been taken to reduce bat strike-related incidents in Kununurra.

Horizon Power’s Retail and Community Manager East Kimberley, Tara Stigwood, explained how mango fruiting season in the Kimberley usually brings an increase in bat numbers throughout the region.

“One of their favourite places to stopover is on power lines and unfortunately this can lead to power outages,” Ms Stigwood said.

“The bats have a tendency to fight amongst themselves and flap about.

“If their feet are in contact with the live powerline and their wings or body touch the earthed pole or cross-arm, which connects the line to the pole, it creates a path for the power to earth and this can cause the outage.

“We have worked hard over the past few years and invested in a number of projects to reduce bat strike-related incidents and minimise outages.”

Some of the projects include the introduction of cross-arms to space the lines further apart, coupled with covers for the insulators and lines to reduce the impact of the bats in problem areas.

“The length of our powerlines makes it challenging for our crews to identify where the bats are feeding close to the lines,” Ms Stigwood said.

“With the constantly shifting nesting and feeding patterns of the bats, it means we can only do so much in terms of prevention.”

While the bats remain a challenge, one thing residents have a lot more control over is the vegetation around their property and preventing overgrown vegetation from causing outages.

Ms Stigwood said vegetation inspection and cutting has begun and will continue for approximately the next two months.

“Poorly maintained vegetation can lead to outages when branches come into contact with power lines,” Ms Stigwood said.

“I want to remind everybody of their responsibility to maintain the trees and bushes around their property,”

For information on how to safely maintain vegetation, visit the Horizon Power website and search for ‘trimming trees’.  

If you see any damage to electrical infrastructure or want to report a fault, please call Horizon Power on 13 23 51.

For media queries, please contact the media line on 1800 799 745.