Some customers in the Ballarat South area will experience planned power outages over the next few days to allow Powercor to safely conduct work to install a new bushfire mitigation device, the company advises.
Work is underway to install a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) in the Ballarat South Zone Substation. The device will provide additional safety protection for the region, operating in a similar way to a large safety switch on the network.
It is designed to minimise the chance of a spark occurring if a powerline comes into contact with the ground or a tree limb, thereby reducing the risk of fires starting from powerline faults.
As part of the installation, Powercor will conduct works in Ballarat South on April 4,5 and 7, requiring parts of the network to be switched off to allow crews safe access. The length of the planned outages will range from between four hours to eight hours.
The outages will occur on:
- Saturday, 4 April 8.30am and 12.30pm, impacting 341 customers;
- Sunday, 5 April between 9am and 3pm, affecting 877 customers; and
- Tuesday, 7 April between 8am and 4pm, impacting 641 customers.
Powercor has notified impacted customers directly about the outages.
Powercor REFCL technical director Andrew Bailey said Powercor had taken steps to minimise the outages and the impact on the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There is never a convenient time to have a power outage and we understand that now more than ever people are relying on the continuity of supplies as they work or study from home," Mr Bailey said.
"No-one knows how long the current conditions will be enforced so it is important that we make sure our network is robust now and for the long-term.
"We are making changes to our network so we can safely incorporate these devices into the region and reduce the risk of fires starting from electricity assets.
"We thank customers for their understanding as we work to further improve the safety of our network."
During the 2019-2020 summer, Powercor had REFCLs at 10 Zone Substations in service and operating at heightened sensitivity settings on total fire ban days.
On 21 November 2019, which was Victoria's first code-red declared Total Fire Ban day (in Mallee and Northern Country) since Black Saturday, REFCLs detected and activated for six permanent faults and eight short-term faults.
Between October and end January, there were 17 total fire ban days in western Victoria. On these days, REFCLs activated 13 times for permanent faults, 22 short term and 75 temporary faults.
"REFCLs are keeping communities safer. They are providing our communities added protection and are improving the safety of our networks," Mr Bailey said.
The Ballarat South REFCL will be in operation by April 2021.
For more information about REFCLs visit https://www.powercor.com.au/safety/bushfire-mitigation-program/rapid-earth-fault-current-limiter/