AusNet completes $500m REFCL bushfire mitigation program

AusNet executives and officials speak to media at the Benalla REFCL site
AusNet’s Executive General Manager of Network Operations & Safety, Prue Crawford-Flett

AusNet has completed work on its $500 million Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCLs) bushfire mitigation program, which will reduce bushfire risk and help keep communities safe.

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Over the last seven years AusNet has installed this leading-edge technology in high bushfire-risk areas across the electricity distribution network, as part of the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.

Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio and AusNet executive general manager of network operations and safety Prue Crawford-Flett recently visited the Benalla substation, the final region to receive this bushfire mitigation technology.

“AusNet has installed REFCL’s at 22 of our substations. These REFCL’s operate like a safety switch, rapidly cutting power to fallen or damaged powerlines, reducing the risk of bushfires, ” Crawford-Flett said.

AusNet’s 22 REFCLs cover more than 40,000sq km, protecting over 18,000km of electrical powerlines and 300,000 AusNet customers.

The recently released Australasian Bushfire Outlook warned that there was a high chance of an early start to the fires season in Victoria this year and the recent fires in the Gippsland region attest to that.

“More broadly, we will continue to invest in the maintenance of our distribution network, with energy reliability a key focus for AusNet,” Crawford-Flett said.

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“We will also 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 play our role in mitigating the risk of bushfires.”

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