6 July, 2021
Stress-testing of the power network has taken place this week as part of the installation of
advanced technology in Stawell to reduce the risk of bushfires started from the electricity network
in the area.
Powercor crews have spent more than five months on the project to upgrade the Stawell Zone
Substation and hundreds of sites in the wider region to prepare the network for the new device,
known as a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL).
The Stawell REFCL will protect 537 kilometres of powerlines, including in Stawell, Pomonal, Halls
Gap, Landsborough, Rupanyup, Dadswell’s Bridge, Minyip and surrounds.
The REFCL will protect these powerlines by acting like a giant safety switch, reducing voltage
levels within milliseconds to mitigate the risk of fire if a tree strikes powerlines or lines hit the
Testing took place on Monday 5 July and was successful, marking a major milestone for the
bushfire mitigation project.
Powercor Manager REFCL Program Delivery Andrew Bailey said having REFCL technology at
Stawell represented a huge leap forward in terms of bushfire safety for the local network.
“Stawell is Powercor’s 17th zone substation to be fitted with REFCL technology, and there’s no
doubt these devices are keeping communities safer,” Mr Bailey said.
“The testing this week is the first phase of commissioning in the delivery of this important project
“It allows us to validate the network upgrades to support the safety device. The next phase will
confirm that the REFCL is operating in line with the performance levels we require.”
Powercor is on track for its scheduled rollout of REFCL devices across central and western
Victoria, which is due for completion in 2023 as per the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission
Powercor has completed its other VBRC commitments, including the installation of more than
1,200 enhanced Automatic Circuit Reclosures (ACRs), 220,000 armour rods and vibration
dampers and 1,800 line spacers.
For more information about REFCLs visit https://www.powercor.com.au/safety/bushfire-mitigation-program/rapid-earth-fault-current-limiter/