Satellite technology protects border communities

AusNet Services has installed Victoria’s first ever satellite-linked electricity network control devices along the state’s remote north eastern border, which will help reduce bushfire risk and improve reliability in the region.

The devices, known as Auto Circuit Reclosers (ACRs), service the communities of Bendoc, Bonang, Tubbut, Goongerah, and Deddick Valley.

In 2012, AusNet Services took over operational control of the Bonang, Bendoc and Lower Bendoc 22kV spur lines located in the north eastern tip of the Snowy River National Park and supplied with electricity from Bombala in New South Wales.

Bushfires in February 2014 around Goongerah (80km south of Bendoc) were one of the key drivers for the safety-related project to install five state-of-the-art ACRs along the spur line.

Three of the ACRs were installed at the New South Wales and Victorian border crossing points near Bendoc and Delegate, and one each at Goongerah and Tubbut.

Remote controls for the three ACRs on the border operate through Telstra’s 3G service. However, the remaining two sites on the Victorian side are located outside of Telstra’s 3G coverage area, and the only option left was to use satellite communications.

After lengthy in-house trials, AusNet Services selected as Inmarsat Satellite-based solution at the two ACR sites in Goongerah and Tubbut.

“This innovative solution helps protect these remote Victorian communities by significantly reducing the risk of fire starts during total fire ban and code red days. It completes the final implementation of this recommendation from the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission,” AusNet Services project manager Anand Sobandevu said.

“These ground-breaking devices enable AusNet Services to instantaneously detect and turn off power if a fault occurs on the distribution network on those days of greatest fire risk (TFB and Code Red days). Remotely controlling ACRs on the actual day, rather than disabling the function over a period of weeks also minimises supply disruptions throughout the worst fire period.”

Bendoc satellite ACR controls being installed
Bendoc satellite ACR controls being installed