Media release: Mammoth network investment no replacement for being prepared

1 December, 2021

Electricity distributors CitiPower and Powercor have invested more than half a billion dollars this year to keep the network safe and resilient to extreme conditions, but recent storms have shown the ongoing importance of customers being prepared.

And with more Victorians moving to regional areas, Powercor is urging new residents to plan how they may respond before, during and after a power outage.

Powercor’s Head of Customer Experience, Adam Nason, said there had already been two major weather events across parts of Victoria this year that had led to lengthy and widespread outages due to the extensive damage caused to poles and wires.

“Extreme weather events and bushfires can both cause extended power outages and are more likely to occur in the summer months,” Mr Nason said.

“In June and October, severe weather ripped through parts of our network, causing major destruction. Both events are a reminder that extreme weather can impact your power supply.”

“While we have made significant investments in the network, there will always be a place for customers knowing and understanding what to do if the lights go out.”

The Powercor network has seen an increase of 29,160 customers between 1 January and 31 October, as extended COVID restrictions in the metropolitan area has driven more people to seek a ‘tree change’ to regional Victoria.

“Our crews have worked year-round to make sure our network is safe and reliable, and we are ready to respond quickly if an outage does occur.

“We recommend everyone has a plan to have the power they need this summer and understands what to do if the lights go out.”

Powercor crews and their resource partners are on schedule with all network inspection, maintenance and testing requirements ahead of the annual bushfire season.

A $503 million extensive program of works throughout 2021, including through Victoria’s COVID restrictions, has helped ensure the CitiPower and Powercor networks are as prepared as possible for the coming summer.

These works included:

  • Performing 41,302 maintenance tasks across the network.
  • Cutting vegetation away from 60,073 powerline spans, with 100% of the network inspected by our helicopter and ground-based LiDAR vegetation detection program.
  • Rolling out an additional four Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs), taking the total number to 18 that will be in operation this summer. These devices are now protecting 15,467 kilometres of powerlines in high bushfire risk areas servicing 251,760 customers will have this added protection to prevent fires. Last summer, the 14 REFCLs in service activated over 16 times on the 9 Total Fire Ban days to help keep communities safer.

Safety devices, including Automatic Circuit Reclosers (ACRs) and REFCLS, are operated at a sensitive setting and on Total Fire Ban Days to minimise the risk of a fire starting. Outages on these days may take longer to restore, as our crews are required to patrol the lines after each fault.

“These patrols are critical in ensuring that we can safely return power to your home after an outage, with powerlines typically much longer in regional areas than those in the city,” Mr Nason said.

“Given these differences, it’s important you know what to do if the lights go out.”

For those new to regional Victoria, the longest power line on the Powercor network is more than 1190 kilometres long, while the average length is about 137 kilometres. This compares to just over 3 kilometres in the CitiPower network.

A checklist for customers on how to prepare for summer power outages is available at and includes advice on:

  1. Look after your health – particularly if you rely on life support equipment and need a back-up plan
  2. Stay connected – by having mobile phones and laptop computers charged to stay connected with family and friends
  3. Beware of fallen powerlines – always assume they are live, stay 10m away and call us immediately
  4. Have back-up energy ready – like batteries, lamps and barbeques and have your eskies ready
  5. Stay up to date – visit our website to choose your preferences for getting notifications from CitiPower and Powercor about power supplies

Customers can track the status of any outage on Powercor’s website, where they can also report a fault, sign up for SMS alerts and find even more tips on how to prepare for and manage a power outage.

Powercor’s faults and emergencies number, 13 24 12, is also available 24 hours a day.