Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL)

Network planning & projectsNetwork safetyRapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL)

One of the biggest network safety projects Powercor has ever undertaken is now complete.

22 Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs) are now in service. The leading-edge technology will reduce the likelihood of powerline-related bushfires across our network.

REFCL technology works like a large safety switch. It detects when one line out of a three-phase powerline has fallen to the ground and almost instantly reduces the voltage on the fallen line. At the same time, it boosts the voltage on the two remaining lines in service. This means we can maintain power to homes and businesses while substantially reducing the fire risk.

The introduction of REFCLs was part of the Government’s response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. We support the initiative in the interests of community safety.

REFCL operate across 135 feeders, protect more than 17,800km of powerlines and 289,000 homes and businesses in many communities.

REFCL are keeping communities safer by activating when faults occur. We have also found important other safety benefits. For example, REFCLs have activated when operators of heavy machinery such as excavators or bulldozers accidentally hit overhead powerlines while working – protecting the operators.

The rollout of REFCLs is one of the most technically complex changes to the electricity industry in more than 30 years.

If you have an enquiry about REFCL in your area, please call our Customer Service Agents for Powercor on 13 24 12.

Frequently asked questions

How does a REFCL work?

When a powerline comes into contact with the ground or a tree, the energy released can cause a large spark. The line can continue sparking if it remains live, increasing the potential for a fire.

After a few moments, the device checks if the fault is still active. If it is temporary, then power is restored to the line. If it is a continuing fault, power to all three lines will be shut off to protect against fire risk and make it safe for our crews to fix.

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