Media Statement: Response to ABC News on South West fires settlement

16 March, 2020

Our thoughts are with the community and those who were directly affected by the fires as we approach the second anniversary.

We have settled the Garvoc class action. Assessments of claims by members of the insurer group are underway.

We have an extensive bushfire mitigation program that operates all year round to ensure we are delivering safe and reliable power to our customers.

In 2019, we undertook significant additional testing in order to reassure people in the south-west region that our poles are safe and this was independently corroborated by Energy Safe Victoria.

As a result of this work and other technical studies on our poles, we have also changed our pole inspection and maintenance strategies to increase the amount of sound wood required for poles to remain on our network and manage the age profile of the pole population.

Feedback received from farmers affected by the fires has been instrumental to the design of this new procedure.  Following our engagement with farmers following the fires and their involvement in subsequent workshops and surveys as part of the development of our Regulatory Proposal for 2021-2026, their input has helped design a new procedure which will benefit all Powercor customers.

We have submitted our five-year plan to the Australian Energy Regulator for review and approval and are proposing to invest $694.8 million in asset replacement over the period which is a 52 per cent increase on the $455.4 million approved for the current regulatory period.

This includes a four-fold increase in pole replacements, taking the number to 20,878, and will refurbish a further 18,892 poles over the five years.

Further information about our pole inspection process is available at: https://www.powercor.com.au/safety/safety-around-our-networks/pole-inspections/