Terang power safety works reach major milestone

15 October 2020

Powercor has reached a key milestone in its work to install world-leading bushfire mitigation technology in Terang that will further strengthen the safety of the electricity network in the south west region.

Crews are now installing a new control room and new transformer, which have been delivered to the Terang Zone Substation, which supplies power to 6750 customers.

The new equipment marks the unofficial ‘half way’ point for the major network upgrade, which will accommodate the installation of a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter device (REFCL).

The device acts as a large safety switch on the network, minimising the chance of a spark occurring if a powerline comes into contact with the ground or a tree limb.

Since March, Powercor crews have worked through COVID lockdowns and difficult weather conditions to complete upgrades at 1135 sites across the Terang network area in places like Mortlake and Panmure, to prepare the network to support the new device.

More than 200 localised planned outages have occurred to allow crews to safely conduct upgrades, at times needing to use vehicles with tracks to access poles and other network equipment in particularly extremely wet, boggy conditions.

Powercor REFCL technical director Andrew Bailey said the Terang project was well on track to be completed by April 2021.

“This is a major upgrade of our network and once completed will provide additional safety measures for the community,” Mr Bailey said.

“There has been significant progress during winter to get our poles, wires and other infrastructure ready to support this technology and this work has been done throughout winter.

“Much of this work has been completed during the COVID restrictions, when many people have been working and studying from home, so we do appreciate their patience as we progressed this important project.”

Activity will now increase at the Terang Zone Substation, with the REFCL device scheduled to be delivered later this month.

Already, more than 5000 tonnes of soil have been brought in to create the foundations for the expanded facility.

When complete, the Terang REFCL will protect all high voltage powerlines in an area of about 2500 square kilometres, reaching as far north as Chatsworth, west to Caramut, south to Port Campbell and east to Scotts Creek.

The Terang REFCL will be one of five such safety devices in the South-West. Devices are already installed in Camperdown and Colac, with work underway to install one in Koroit. Work on a device at Hamilton will begin later this year.

When all South-West devices are completed, a network of 5,573km of high voltage powerlines will be protected, including 28 feeder lines (powerlines) covering 50,000 customers.

Powercor’s work to prepare the network ahead of summer is well underway, and inspection and maintenance activities are ahead of schedule compared to the same time last year.

To find out more about how the new devices operate, visit powercor.com.au/REFCL