Victoria progresses powerline bushfire safety


Victoria’s energy regulator has proposed changes to electricity network rules to permit the use of new equipment aimed at reducing the risk of bushfires in regional parts of the state.

The proposal, to change voltage standards applying to powerlines, would allow distributors to operate new equipment in line with the amended bushfire mitigation regulations as recommended by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

The equipment – rapid earth fault current limiters or REFCLs – reduces the power flowing through a fallen powerline to prevent electrical sparks igniting a fire during extreme weather.

The commission’s director of energy Sarah McDowell said the proposed changes would allow one of the key recommendations of the royal commission to be implemented.

“Working with the networks and high voltage customers to understand the implications of the new technology helped us identify what needed to change,” she said.

“We are therefore proposing to introduce new voltage variation limits that only apply when REFCLs are operating.

The Essential Services Comission is currently seeking feedback on the proposed changes before a final decision expected in August 2018.

Submissions close June 22.