New bushfire safety technology to be installed in Wonthaggi

6 September 2017

Wonthaggi will be among the first areas in Victoria to have new technology installed that is aimed at reducing the risk of bushfires starting from electricity assets.

This month, AusNet will begin installing the Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology in Wonthaggi and the surrounding region as part of a Government-mandated Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.

The technology is a type of electricity network protection device that operates in a similar way to a safety switch on AusNet’ electricity distribution network.

It is estimated the technology could cut powerline fires in Victoria by about 50 per cent, according to the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce.

Wonthaggi is one of 22 high fire-risk areas in the AusNet network area to have the technology installed.

AusNet’ REFCL Program Sponsor Roger Riley said the technology rollout was an important part of the company’s bushfire mitigation work.

“This technology is aimed at reducing the risk of bushfire starting from power assets and improving the safety of the electricity network,” Mr Riley said.

The technology limits the amount of energy released within a 10th of a second when a fault, such as a fallen powerline, occurs.

This greatly reduces the risk of fires being caused by such events.

“The rollout of this bushfire mitigation technology is complex and some planned electricity outages are necessary to ensure the technology is installed safely,” Mr Riley said.

“The length of the outages, the locations and frequency will differ for each area. This may mean some outages last a few hours and some may be a full day, however we always look at how we can minimise any disruption to the community.

“We will be seeking to avoid impacting customers during summer holidays and major events.

“We apologise for any inconvenience these important works may cause and we want to assure the community we will provide as much advance notice as possible of any planned outages so they can prepare.”

AusNet will be speaking with the local community to provide more information about the program and the potential impacts during the installation.

Work to install the technology is expected to finish by mid 2018, however this is dependent on weather.

More information is available at

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