Media Release: Works underway to underground powerlines around Bendigo

4 March, 2020

Electricity distributor Powercor has embarked on a new $15 million program to underground powerlines in high risk bushfire areas around Bendigo and boost community safety.

The program, which targets areas around Lockwood, McCombs and Bridgewater, is replacing almost 32 kilometres of single wire earth return (SWER) lines.

The works continue the practice of undergrounding at-risk SWER lines which began with the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP), one of the responses to key recommendations from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

Powercor successfully undergrounded 334km of SWER lines as part of the government funded a program between 2011 and 2019 and is fitting all others with enhanced Auto Circuit Reclose (ACR) technology to detect and prevent sparks which may cause a bushfire.

Powercor Bushfire Mitigation manager Dene Ward said the commitment to continue undergrounding is part of the company’s extensive bushfire prevention work.

“Our number one priority is safety and this work is another way we are investing to help protect communities against the threat of bushfires,” Mr Ward said.

The areas selected have been identified as high fire risk areas, according to the State Government’s bushfire risk assessment tool.

The undergrounding works began earlier this year and will continue throughout the year. Works involve boring and ploughing, largely along road reserves, to underground lines.

Powercor is working with local councils and landowners to minimise impacts on customers as the work takes place. This may include some traffic changes and a small amount of planned power outages so work can take place safely.

Other initiatives in Powercor’s significant bushfire mitigation program include extensive asset inspection, maintenance and upgrades, vegetation management and the installation of Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) devices which act like a safety switch for the network, and trials of new technology such as high voltage covered conductors.

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.

More information can be found on the Powercor website powercor.com.au/safety/bushfire-mitigation-program/powerline-replacement/

For more information about Powercor’s regulatory proposal, visit talkingelectricity.com.au