With summer fast approaching it’s time to prepare for the bushfire season.
AusNet has an extensive works program to maintain our network so we can keep supplying safe and reliable power to our customers.
Over the last twelve months AusNet has invested $42 million in an extensive vegetation management program to maintain a safe and reliable network and prepare the network for bushfire season. Our network covers 80,000 square kilometres, with 93% being in regional and rural areas. This consists of 44,705 km of overhead powerlines, 7,908 km of underground cables, 417,145 power poles and 90,000 streetlights.
We have inspected 314,000 spans of our network (the area between each pole) in high bushfire risk areas, the equivalent of trimming around 1.6 million trees and removed 3,500 hazardous trees to improve safety ahead of the bushfire season.
As part of the Victorian Government's Powerline Bushfire Safety Program, we're also installing leading-edge technology in high bushfire-risk areas across our electricity distribution network. Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs) operate like a safety switch, rapidly cutting power to fallen or damaged powerlines before a fire can start. Nineteen REFCL systems are already operating and successfully reducing the risk of bushfires in our communities. A further three will be installed in Kalkallo, Benalla and Wodonga by May 2023. We're continuing to invest in other technologies that work together with these programs to maintain a safe and reliable network for our customers.
In the coming months you may notice helicopter inspections in your area as we fly over the network to get a clear picture of how the landscape is looking and where we can identify any potential bushfire risks to our distribution network. You may also notice our crews trimming trees away from powerlines or carrying out important maintenance work as we step up our preparations for summer.
More broadly, AusNet will continue to prepare for Victoria’s energy future by investing in projects that increase network capacity, improve reliability, introduce more renewable energy into the network and protect our communities from bushfires.
Tips for power outages:
Power outages can happen anytime, especially in peak demand periods like summer and severe weather.
It’s important to be power prepared and know what to do before, during and after a power outage.
During a bushfire, you may experience interruptions to your electricity and/or gas supply, even if your property hasn’t been directly affected. For this reason, bushfire contingency plans should always factor in possible loss of gas and electricity.
If you use life support equipment that relies on a continuous power supply, make sure your emergency plan is up-to-date and you’re ready to activate it during a power outage. If you have a private electric line you will need to ensure it is clear of vegetation to reduce bushfire risk. Customers with private electric lines should contact a registered electrician or certified tree clearer for advice to clear their property of any unwanted vegetation.