Some customers in Clunes will experience planned power outages this month to allow electricity distribution business Powercor to safely conduct work to install a new bushfire mitigation device.
Powercor began works to install a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) in the Ballarat North Zone Substation earlier this year, with the device to provide additional safety protections for the region.
The device operates similar to 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, thereby reducing the risk of fires starting from powerline faults.
As part of the installation, Powercor will conduct works in Clunes on 6, 13 and 20 June that will require parts of the network to be switched off to allow crews safe access. The length of the planned outages will range from between one hour to 9.5 hours.
The works will occur:
Powercor REFCL Technical Director Andrew Bailey said Powercor had taken steps to minimise the outages and the impact on the community.
“We are making changes to our network so we can safely incorporate these devices into the region and reduce the risk of fires starting from electricity assets,” Mr Bailey said.
“Power outages are inconvenient, particularly during cold winter days, and we have taken steps to minimise the impact to customers as much as possible.
“In some areas, including the Clunes town centre, we have been able to use generators to keep power on to customers. In other areas, the network must be turned off to allow our crews to safely conduct their work.
“We thank customers for their understanding as we work to further improve the safety of our network.”
Powercor will notify impacted customers directly about the planned outages. Customers who rely on electricity for their health should be ready to enact their life support plan.
Powercor will also be installing REFCL technology at the Ballarat South Zone Substation, with both devices at the Ballarat North and Ballarat South Zone Substations to be in operation by April 2021. The REFCL is just one of a series of safety devices on the network, designed to reduce bushfire risk and improve safety.