Media Release: Testing planned for new Bendigo bushfire safety device

Friday, 12 June, 2020

The final stage of work to install a new bushfire mitigation device in Bendigo begins next week as part of electricity distributor Powercor’s program to further improve the safety of the network.

Powercor is installing Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter devices (REFCLs) at the Bendigo Zone Substation and Bendigo Terminal Station substations.

As part of work to commission the device at the Bendigo Zone Substation, Powercor crews will be conducting stress testing on the local network between 1am and 6am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week (16-18 June).

Powercor REFCL Technical Director Andrew Bailey said the REFCL rollout was one of the most technically complex changes the electricity industry had seen in more than 30 years.

“The testing validates the replacement work that we have already conducted and identify whether other upgrades or changes need to be made to the local network to support the safety device,” Mr Bailey said.

There are no outages planned during this work, however testing can occasionally cause unplanned outages.

“In the unlikely event of an outage, we have crews ready to respond as safely and as quickly as possible to get power back on to homes and businesses,” Mr Bailey said.

Further testing to ensure the device is responding effectively to faults will occur over coming weeks.

Commissioning of the device at the Bendigo Terminal Station will occur later this year. REFCLs have already been installed at the Eaglehawk, Castlemaine and Maryborough zone substations.

The REFCL works like a large safety switch. It is able to detect when one line out of a three-phase powerline has fallen to the ground and almost instantly reduces the voltage on the fallen line. At the same time, it will boost the voltage on the two remaining lines in service. This means Powercor can maintain power to homes and businesses while substantially reducing the fire risk.

Bendigo’s two new REFCLs will both be in operation by April 2021.

For more information about REFCLs visit https://www.powercor.com.au/safety/bushfire-mitigation-program/rapid-earth-fault-current-limiter/