Smart Metro Poles for Thailand’s Coast Protection


Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA)


 
The Conversion of Overhead Line into Underground Cable Project is the mega-project that MEA has continually operated since 2014 as the organization core process to build trust in power systems, to serve increasing needs of electricity in the future, to reduce damage from physical factors such as natural disasters like heavy storms or strong winds in accord with the organization’s values and missions.

INTRODUCTION

MEA’s Conversion of Overhead Line into Underground Cable Project on Phahonyothin, Phaya Thai and Sukhumvit Road, have been completed since 2015 but it was unable to dismantle the power poles because of the telecommunication cables of the private telecom agencies on the poles that there was no single host to manage undergrounding them. So in 2016, MEA held the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony on the cooperation for the conversion of overhead power lines and telecommunication cables into underground cable systems to create the efficient cooperation to the project implementation.

After the process of undergrounding telecommunication cables and removing power poles, MEA considered about the way to reuse a number of uprooted poles that could be the best benefit for social and environment. So MEA collaborated with BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) to bring uprooted poles to a coastal area in Bang Khun Thian district to form several structures designed to curb the coastal erosion which is a main problem of Thailand’s coast.

Objectives:
  • REUSE power poles from previous process as cushion waves and prevent coastal erosion
  • SUPPORT the Sustainable Development Goals; Goal 14, Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • HELP increase the diversity and abundance of aquatic animals and the luxuriance of mangrove vegetation along the coast

FRAMEWORK AND STRATEGY

The Conversion of Overhead Line into Underground Cable Project is the mega-project that MEA has continually operated since 2014 as the organization core process to build trust in power systems, to serve increasing needs of electricity in the future, to reduce damage from physical factors such as natural disasters like heavy storms or strong winds in accord with the organization’s values and missions.

The undergrounding telecommunication cables, removing power poles and reusing power poles as cushion waves and prevent coastal erosion which were accomplished by MEA and four agencies took about five months (The operation on Phahonyothin, Phaya Thai and Sukhumvit Road, after the MOU signing, started in August 2017 and was set to be completed by December 2017) and the processes includes:
  • Walking Campaign and the public relations activity as CSR In-process.
  • Undergrounding and removing the telecommunication cables.
  • Removing power poles by applying “Hydraulic pole jacking” and “Smart pole-cutting saw” techniques, which were invented and developed by MEA personnel.
  • Reusing power poles as cushion waves to prevent coastal erosion.

ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPACT

MEA has conducted surveys to evaluate after the completion of the project by asking comments from the residents or passer-by. The results were found that the underground power project was highly recognized by people in the areas. The most realized aspects in such projects were the improvement of sceneries and the accident reduction. As for the satisfaction to the project implementation, the respondents rated over 80% of satisfaction level. MEA also hosted a press tour to visit the Bang Khun Thian coastline site in December 2017 to give journalists the opportunity to find out more about the whole process of the pole installation. MEA received an overwhelming response to the tour from both domestic and international news agencies.

Moreover, MEA hopes that the project will also make the benefit and impact of the defenses against coastal erosion on the environmental quality and the luxuriance of eco system as well as the similar project implemented earlier in the area adjacent to the Phra Chulachomklao Fort, Samut Prakan province; the expected impacts are:
  • The diversity and abundance of aquatic animals increased.
  • The luxuriance of mangrove vegetation (diversity of species, growth, height, density per area unit) increased.
  • The distance of mangrove forest from the sea to the inner forest edge, including increased natural distribution of species increased.

FUTURE DIRECTION

MEA has continually planned the conversion of overhead power line system into underground cable system projects for the next 40 years. By 2021, MEA will propose the project plans, covering total distance of 214.6 kilometers in significant areas, e.g. skytrain routes, area of inner Ratchadapisek ring road, area of middle and outer ring roads. All uprooted power poles, approximately 10,000 poles, will be brought to continually cushion waves and prevent coastal erosion about 2.8 km. in Bang Khun Thian coastline, reducing the impact of waves without adversely affecting the local environment.
Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is a state enterprise responsible for distributing electric power to three cities, Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan which are considered the important economic and social areas of the country, along with the government policy and MEA’s strategy to improve electric power’s stability and to be fully responsible for society and environment.