Powercor is continuing to invest in its powerline replacement program to help protect communities against the threat of bushfires
The Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) replacement program continues the work undertaken by the Victorian Government’s Powerline Replacement Fund (PRF) which was aimed at preventing powerline related bushfires in high risk areas.
In 2020, Powercor will invest an additional $15 million to replace overhead SWER powerlines with underground cables as part of its bushfire mitigation program. This approach was one of the recommendations from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
Work being completed
Between April and August 2019, project planning and preliminary site assessments were completed before planning applications were submitted and approved by Council. As part of the planning process we completed comprehensive assessments to ensure flora and fauna is protected during the works.
New underground cables will replace existing overhead powerlines in the following areas;
- 29.5km in Bridgewater
- 6.1km in Lockwood
- 1.8km in McCombs
Typical project timeline
Construction work will take around 14 weeks at each location, depending on weather and any unforeseen issues. Our priority is to complete the works as quickly and safely as possible, with minimal disruption to customers and communities.
What are we doing?
- Ploughing, boring or trenching works to lay underground cable
- Installing and jointing of cables on our poles and on the roadside
- Retiring overhead wires and poles
- Replacing existing conductor with covered conductor
Local road users may experience minor construction impacts including reduced speed limits and temporary changes to traffic conditions to help keep workers safe.
At times as we complete construction in an area we will be required to interrupt customer’s power to safely undertake the final pieces of work. Powercor will keep customers updated about any outages in their area.
For the majority of the works, construction will occur within the road reserve and will follow existing powerline alignment. However there may be some instances where powerlines enter private property and there may be a requirement to adjust the alignment. We are in talks with landowners that may be impacted and will continue to work with them as construction approaches their property.
How will this initiative benefit you?
To date, Poweror has completed $52 million worth of works in the Colac, Otway, Surfcoast, Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander Shires, removing more than 200 kilometres of bare wire and installing 260 kilometres of underground powerlines.
Moving overhead electrical infrastructure to underground trenches improves the visual amenity of the community and reduces the risk of power outages resulting from extreme weather. Other benefits include:
- Reduced risk of bushfires started by powerlines
- Less vegetation maintenance required in certain areas
- Increased power supply reliability as a result of putting powerlines underground and/or installation of high voltage covered conductors
Powercor Bushfire Mitigation Program
This program complements Powercor’s extensive bushfire mitigation programs which operate all year round to ensure our customers and assets are protected as much as possible against the risk of bushfires.
We have created a list of commonly asked questions below – these may provide you with further information that is relevant to you.
If you’d like to discuss access arrangements, or advise of any specific entry conditions to your property, please contact Tony Cahill on 1300 301 101.
Powerline Replacement Fund – a Victorian Government initiative
The Powerline Replacement Fund (PRF) will see powerlines in the highest risk bushfire areas replaced with insulated overhead, underground powerlines or new conductor technologies.
Funding for the $200 million PRF is being directed in stages to priority areas identified in conjunction with the Emergency Management Commissioner, Energy Safe Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and technical experts.
For more information about the Powerline Replacement Fund visit: https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/powerline-replacement-fund
The full program of works usually take 14-18 weeks, starting from approval and ending with bare wire network being removed. Sometimes the old wire network may be decommissioned but removed later due to access and other issues. The wires are no longer live, so they are not a risk. Our goal is to always complete the full program of work as quickly and safely as possible, working with local council and broader community.
We undertake extensive community out reach to ensure local residents, businesses and visitors have as much notice as possible about any changes to roads or other infrastructure. This includes local letter box drops, signage and updates through council websites and social media pages.
Powercor’s network covers central and western Victoria and we conduct regular reviews of all our infrastructure, as well as take part in specialist programs such mimimising risks from bushfires. Currently, we are focused on the areas as identified by the Victorian Government to replace the overhead power lines.
Generally, power supply will be reliable as a result of the undergrounding of powerlines and/or installation of high voltage covered conductor.