Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter Program


What is a REFCL?

A Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) is like a large safety switch in the electricity network. Since 2017, REFCLS have been operating in Victoria to reduce the risk of bushfires. To see how our REFCLs  are built, watch our time-lapse videos

When there's a fault on a powerline such as if it touches the ground or a tree falls on it, the REFCL detects this and quickly limits the flow of energy through the powerline. It can do this within a tenth of a second. For example, if one line of a three-phase powerline falls to the ground, the REFCL cuts power to that line and increases it on the other two lines.

This way, power can still be supplied to nearby homes and businesses while reducing the chances of fires or electric shocks.

Without a REFCL, these faults can cut power for several minutes, cause fires or damage property.

Diagram showing a REFCL linked to a transformer then distribution poles to a house. A powerline is broken and the energy is grounded back to the REFCL with a typical fault current of <0.5 amps

What we're doing

We’re installing this leading-edge bushfire mitigation technology in 22 high bushfire-risk areas across our electricity distribution network.

The Victorian Government made REFCLs mandatory as part of the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program to make the electricity network safer. We're also doing other things to reduce the risk of fires by:

  • covering powerlines in high bushfire-risk areas (undergrounding)
  • regularly checking and maintaining powerlines
  • managing and clearing vegetation near powerlines more effectively.

REFCLs will operate at their highest settings on Total Fire Ban and Code Red days during summer.

REFCL locations

We have built 22 REFCLs in outer Melbourne and across northern and eastern Victoria. To find a REFCL near you, see REFCL Look-up.