New Powerline Bushfire Safety Standards To Protect Victorians

The Andrews Labor Government has announced new regulations requiring power companies to introduce cutting edge technology across the state to better protect Victorians from bushfires started by powerline faults.

Under the proposed Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Regulations 2015 electricity distributors will have to install new, world-first technology across their networks that stops an electrical current within milliseconds of a powerline coming into contact with the ground or vegetation – stopping a fault before it can start a fire.

The Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology was developed in Victoria in response to the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, intended to make powerlines safer in bushfire risk areas.

Final testing in Kilmore in October found the REFCL technology reduces by ten-times the likelihood of a bushfire starting from a high voltage powerline fault.

This cutting edge technology has undergone more than two thousand tests, undertaken with local electricity companies and international technology experts.

In areas of acute bushfire risk, electricity distribution businesses will also be required to progressively replace their powerlines by insulating the cables or burying them underground.

The Labor Government’s new higher safety standards aim to halve the risk of powerline-ignited bushfires across regional Victoria.

The proposed Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Regulations 2015 and the regulatory impact statement are available at www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/bushfiremitigation and are open for public comment until 22 December, 2015.

Quote attributable to Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio

 “These new safety standards and world leading technology will help make Victorian communities safer from bushfires and increase the reliability of our state’s power supply.”

“The need to improve safety technology in our high bushfire risk areas is driven by the tragedy of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. We are committed to doing everything we can to improve safety standards across Victoria’s power network to help protect Victorians from the risk of bushfires.”