Media Release: Koroit REFCL the latest link in bushfire protection for Victoria’s south-west

Wednesday, 10 June, 2020

One of the largest bushfire mitigation programs rolled out by Powercor in Victoria’s south-west region continues, with work starting this month to install new technology in the Koroit region.

Crews have begun upgrading the local distribution network to support the installation of a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter at the Koroit Zone Substation.

It is the fourth location in the region to be protected by a REFCL, with devices already installed in Camperdown and Colac and work progressing to install a device in Terang.

Work will start later this year on a fifth device for the south-west, at Hamilton.

When all south-west devices are completed, a network of 5,573km of high voltage powerlines will be protected, including 28 feeder lines covering 50,000 customers.

REFCL devices operate like a large safety switch on the network and minimise the chance of a spark occurring if a powerline comes into contact with the ground or a tree limb.

REFCLs are being installed in some of the state’s highest bushfire risk areas, as directed by the Victorian Government in response to recommendations from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

Powercor’s REFCL Technical Director Andrew Bailey said the REFCL program was providing additional bushfire protection for south-west communities, with the devices operating on powerlines within the Otway Ranges and other high-risk areas.

“As we face more extreme summer seasons, Powercor’s bushfire mitigation activities are keeping communities safer by reducing the risk of fires starting from assets,” Mr Bailey said.

The installation involves crews upgrading the surrounding distribution network to ensure powerlines and other infrastructure is compatible with the device. These works will involve some planned power outages to compete work safely. Customers will be notified directly in advance of any planned outages. “We appreciate any power outages are inconvenient so we take steps to minimise the impact on the community as much as possible,” Mr Bailey said. “We thank customers for their understanding as we work to further improve the safety of our network.”

The Koroit REFCL will be operational prior to the 2021/22 fire season.

Last summer, Powercor had REFCL devices installed in 10 locations and these operated in heightened sensitivity settings on Total Fire Ban days, activating more than 100 times.

Powercor has a dedicated team of engineers, planners and crews working to ensure the devices are installed safely and are operating in line with performance requirements.

The REFCL is just one of a series of safety devices on the network, designed to reduce bushfire risk and improve safety.

To find out more about how the new devices operate, visit powercor.com.au/REFCL