Protecting Wodonga from bushfires

Wodonga will soon benefit from leading-edge bushfire mitigation technology.

AusNet is currently testing the Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology at the Wodonga zone substation.

A REFCL operates like a giant safety switch, rapidly cutting power to fallen or damaged powerlines before a fire can start.

If a powerline falls or something comes into contact with it, within a second this technology limits the energy flow, while boosting electricity to the remaining intact lines. This means the power supply to surrounding homes and businesses can be maintained while reducing the possibility of a fire, or a person or animal nearby receiving an electric shock.

Andrew Linnie, General Manager Engineering & Projects at AusNet, said that by the end of this year AusNet will have installed 22 REFCL’s across eastern Victoria.

“These REFCL’s are protecting over 40,000 square kilometres of the state from potential fires starting from fallen powerlines. That's over a fifth of the state, or the size of Switzerland,” said Mr Linnie.

The Wodonga REFCL will protect over 5,600 square kilometres.

“Since 2021 our RECFL’s have detected over 600 faults, potentially avoiding that many fires from starting,” he added.

AusNet will be testing the Wodonga REFCL every weekday from Friday 21 April until Friday 4 May, between 8am and 5pm.

“There's a small chance that people’s power may be interrupted during testing. We have directly communicated with customers in the testing area so they can prepare. Our crews will be on standby to get the power back on as soon as possible if this happens,” said Mr Linnie.

“We will continue to prepare for Victoria’s energy future by investing in projects that increase network capacity, improve reliability and safety, while also introducing more renewable energy into the network,” said Mr Linnie.

The REFCL program is part of the Victorian Government’s $750 million Powerline Bushfire Safety Program, the biggest powerline safety project in Australia.

For more information visit Wodonga REFCL