Powercor is installing leading edge technology across our electricity network to reduce the likelihood of powerline-related bushfires.
Known as Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs), the 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 is part of the Government’s response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. We support the initiative in the interests of community safety.
REFCLs have now been operating on our networks since 2016. Each year, we have evidence they 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 and will be complete in 2023.
During the construction and commissioning of REFCLs safely, some customers may experience a small number of planned outages. Our team works with the community, business and stakeholders to determine the best time for these planned outages, and we provide information about them via post beforehand.
When they operate, some customers may also find unplanned power outages are longer than usual, especially on total-fire-ban days. That is because our field crews need to inspect the entire powerline affected before power can be restored.
If you have an enquiry about outages in your area, please call our Customer Service Agents for Powercor on 13 24 12.