Media Release: Work planned to test Ararat REFCL bushfire safety device

18 October, 2019

Electricity distributor Powercor will be conducting works in Ararat as part of the installation of world-leading technology to improve the safety of powerlines in high bushfire risk areas.

The Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) device operates like a large safety switch on the network and is designed to minimise the chance of a spark occurring if a powerline comes into contact with the ground or a tree limb, reducing the risk of fires starting from powerline faults.

As part of the installation, Powercor will conduct works in Ararat on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, 22 October, 10.15pm – 3.15am (impacting 804 customers)
  • Wednesday, 23 October, 10.15pm – 3.15am (1038 customers)
  • Sunday, 27 October, 6am – 12 noon. (235 customers
  • Sunday, 27 October, 7am – 12 noon (359 customers)

All affected customers have been notified direct.

The works were originally planned for Sunday 13 October but were rescheduled due to Bathurst 1000 being televised on the same day.

Four separate outages will now be conducted over a three-day period and will affect power supply to a total of 2438 customer in the region.

Ararat residents may also experience reduced traffic speeds throughout the day.

The REFCL device is being installed at the Ararat Zone Substation, which supports 6,699 customers within the region, supplied by four feeders and 793km of power lines.

Powercor’s REFCL Technical Director Andrew Bailey thanked customers for their understanding while Powercor conducted this important safety work.

“We are focussed on delivering safe power to homes and businesses and the REFCL device will significantly improve the safety of our infrastructure and reduce the risk of fires starting from electricity assets.” Mr Bailey said.

“We have sought to minimise the impact of these outages to our customers and will be conducting most of the work overnight.

“We understand that planned power outages can be inconvenient for our customers and we thank residents for their patience as we work as quickly and safely as possible to carry out these works.”

As with every REFCL installation, Powercor has a dedicated team of engineers, planners and crews working to ensure the devices are installed safely and are operating in line with requirements set by the regulators. The REFCL device monitors powerlines up to 60km away meaning the network in the area must be compatible with the REFCL technology.

REFCL devices are already operating across the Powercor network and Ararat will be the ninth zone substation in service for summer.

Powercor is installing its 22 REFCL devices in three phases. The first phase of the project was completed in April 2019. The Ararat REFCL installation is part of phase two and will be completed well in advance of the legislated date of April 2021.

Any customers with questions or who are unsure if they will be affected by the planned outages should contact Powercor on 13 22 06.