Media Release: Even more power upgrades to reduce fire risk for Bendigo region

12 May 2021

Powercor has installed new technology to further reduce the fire risk in key sections of the network near Bendigo.

Work to install covered conductor technology is now complete, with 19km of powerline at Bridgewater North and 7km at Woodvale now replaced.

The upgrade is part of a $4.2 million program to install covered conductor technology, which also includes an upgrade at Modewarre, near Geelong.

Covered conductors are overhead powerlines which have an insulated covering around them.

They are being rolled out in targeted high bushfire risk areas and installed when existing powerlines reach
the end of their service life.

Safety and reliability of powerlines are dramatically increased with the use of covered conductor, with a fire risk reduction rating of more than 98% when compared to bare-wire lines.

The technology can also be typically rolled out faster and more efficiently than methods such as undergrounding.

The installations at Bridgewater North and Woodvale, as well as at Modewarre, are part of a trial to determine whether the technology can be rolled out across the network more extensively.

The upgrades come after Powercor completed a $15 million program in 2020 to underground more than 32 kilometres of single wire earth return (SWER) lines around Lockwood, McCombs and Bridgewater.

Powercor Manager Network Assurance Dene Ward said both the covered conductor upgrade at Bridgewater and the undergrounding works were part of a broad bushfire mitigation program which also included asset inspections, vegetation management and the installation of smart technology to identify faults faster.

“Safety is always our number one priority and everything we do on the network is designed to keep it safe and reliable for our customers,” Mr Ward said.

“This technology is showing a lot of promise and avoids some of the delays we encounter with undergrounding, such as when we hit hard rock.”

“We’ve worked closely with local government and with landowners to minimise impacts for these communities during this work.”

These upgrades follow the installation of new bushfire mitigation devices in 2020, with Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) devices now installed at the Bendigo Zone Substation, Bendigo
Terminal Station and Eaglehawk Zone Substation.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the lights on and communities safe,” Mr Ward said.

For more information on Powercor’s bushfire mitigation work, visit https://www.powercor.com.au/safety/bushfire-mitigation-program/