Powerlines placed underground in Geelong bushfire safety works

20 August 2020

More than 15 kilometres of powerlines west of Geelong are being moved underground as part of Powercor’s extensive bushfire mitigation program to keep electricity infrastructure safe and reliable.

The high voltage lines at Paraparap are located in one of the state’s highest risk bushfire areas.

Powercor crews are replacing poles and overhead wires along parts of Grays Road, Flaxbournes Road, Nortons Road Forest Road and Portreath Road.
Works began last month and are expected to continue through to October.

Major Projects manager Mitchell Droney said the $3.6 million project would significantly reduce bushfire risk while improving reliability for the community.
“This location is what is known as a Bushfire Construction Area (BCA) and when more than 4 spans of overhead conductor need to be replaced in a BCA, they must either be placed underground or replaced with a covered conductor” Mitchell said.

“By undergrounding these powerlines, we are reducing the risk of bushfires and improving safety for our customers.”

Mitchell said Powercor was working to minimise disruptions to landowners and local residents in the area as the work takes place.

“People might notice some local some traffic changes and some planned power outages so work can take place safely,” Mitchell said.

“We’ll notify customers well in advance of planned interruptions to their power supply.”

Mitchell said the works were a significant safety upgrade for local customers.

“We work year round to keep the network safe and this is another example of our bushfire mitigation plan in action.”

The project is part of a suite of preparations Powercor is making on its network ahead of summer.

So far this year in the Geelong and Surf Coast council areas alone, Powercor has cut vegetation back from 3,651 powerline spans, reducing the risk of tree branches coming into contact with high voltage wires.

Other initiatives include extensive asset inspection, maintenance and upgrades and trials of new technology such as high voltage covered conductors.

Powercor is also preparing to install new bushfire devices, called Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters, into the Geelong and Surf Coast region from next year.
REFCL devices act like a giant safety switch when trees hit powerlines or when lines hit the ground.

In addition, Powercor is proposing to invest a further $198 million in bushfire management as part of its Regulatory Proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator for the 2021-2026 period.