Western Murray Irrigation

Installing and automating off-grid power at Coomealla Pump Station maximises energy efficiency for Western Murray Irrigation

Project Overview:

To mitigate the risk of supply authority power system failure and ensure business continuity, Western Murray Irrigation engaged Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications to provide an off-grid alternative energy supply.

Western Murray Irrigation provides sustainable irrigation and drainage services to the horticultural industry in south-western NSW. Operating three pump stations, 2 re-lift stations and 184km of pipelines, they supply and service over 4,100ha of irrigated land in Curlwaa, Coomealla and Buronga.


The Challenges

Maintaining a large-scale water pump station at Coomealla, Western Murray Irrigation required a better solution to be able to continue their irrigation services through power outages. Not being able to deliver water to growers in the peak of summer presented a major risk for their business.

From an operational perspective, careful planning was required to incorporate a generated alternative supply into an existing system of this scale. The works also needed to commence outside the irrigation season and be completed in time for the upcoming summer.

Adhering to workplace health and safety, there were a number of additional safety steps involved in coordinating crane operations onsite, with overhead high voltage services in the immediate vicinity.


Scope of Work

Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications installed two 1250KVA generators, a 30,000 litre fuel tank and an automatic transfer switch, enabling Western Murray Irrigation to automatically switch to off-grid electricity in the event of a power outage.

Below is a snapshot of the full project scope:

  • Supply and install 2 x 1250KVA Cummins Generators
  • Supply and install 2 x purpose-designed changeover control system cabinets housed in an air-conditioned room
  • Supply and install 1 x ATS controller fully interfaced with pump station PLC control
  • Supply and install 1 x 30,000 litre bulk fuel tank, including fuel lines
  • Modify existing main switchboard to facilitate incoming supply from generators
  • Wire and fit copper flex mains cables, between ATS switchboard and generator
  • Wire single-phase power supply to each generator for battery chargers and winter heaters
  • Wire multicore control cable to each generator from ATS switchboard
  • Wire and fit new copper flex mains between ATS switchboard and generator
  • Extend fire detection system into new ATS switchboard room
  • Incorporate ATS switchboards into shunt protection system
  • Engage building sub-contractor to lay hard sands and asphalt for generators, build coolroom panel switch room, and complete formwork and concreting for electrical cable pits


The Outcome

Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications worked closely with Western Murray Irrigation to efficiently install their automated backup power system, on time and within budget.

The new system enables Western Murray Irrigation to draw on and supply significant backup power, as well as go off-grid, load-shed from the supply network and offset their electricity usage. In addition, during high-frequency events, the new system automatically turns the power off and starts the generators within 24 seconds.

Having developed a strong long-term relationship with Western Murray Irrigation, Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications now works as an extension of their team. On-call for 24/7 emergencies, Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications manages their preventative maintenance and repairs via a streamlined computerised system, on an ongoing basis.

“We use Foreman-Sheean Electrical & Communications for nearly all our work. They’re good operators who always provide high-quality work and take the time to explain new systems and processes to our team. From design to project management and execution to maintenance, they provide a complete service. We don’t employ our own technicians, we rely totally on Foreman-Sheaan Electrical & Communications.” David Hilton, Manager Assets and Operations