Electricity wholesaler AusNet Services are installing innovative new technology known as Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL), a type of electricity network protection device that operates similar to a safety switch, at the Kinglake Zone Substation.
The technology reduces the risk of powerline-related bushfires and forms part of the State Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.
In some instances power may be temporarily cut to install and test the technology, affecting some households and businesses. Where possible testing will be conducted at night to minimise disruption.
Following recommendations of the Black Saturday Royal Commission the Victorian Government mandated the installation of REFCL systems where needed across Victoria, with Kinglake being among the first districts to be upgraded.
To install the REFCL system existing assets at the substation are being upgraded to ensure compatibility.
Due to the size of the new equipment the substation is being extended into property now owned by AusNet Services.
The new building at the Kinglake substation will house new electrical assets that will operate within the REFCL system.
Ausnet has sought to engage personally with all the residents in the immediate vicinity of the zone substation.
In Victoria REFCL will be used to help reduce the risk of bushfires. Trials of the technology were conducted in 2014 and 2015.
The REFCL limits the amount of energy released when an earth fault occurs on a powerline such as when an earth fault occurs when a connection is made between a powerline and the ground.
This could occur as a result of a fallen powerline, a tree falling against a powerline or wildlife touching the pole and powerline at the same time.
When faults occur, a REFCL detects and significantly limits the energy flow within a tenth of a second reducing the possibility of a fire being started, or of a person or animal nearby receiving an electric shock.
If the fault is able to fix itself quickly (for example a tree branch that had touched the power line then falls away), customers will not be affected.
Currently, without a REFCL, these faults can cause power to turn off for several minutes, lead to fires or even property damage. If the fault remains (for example a tree has fallen on a line or a car has hit a powerpole) then all power will be cut around the fault area.
Over coming months, Ausnet will also undertake works on the Rubicon based high voltage lines that travel through Kinglake Central to also strengthen the transmission network.
Ausnet spokeswoman Helina Lilley told Kinglake Ranges News “[we] will work closely with the local community to ensure disruptions are minimised as we aim to complete this important safety project by May 2019.”
AusNet Services is responsible for high voltage and extra high voltage electric transmission network in Victoria (66kV and above) and low voltage and medium voltage electric distribution network (22kV and below)
Ausnet is an Australian energy company, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and operates three energy networks in Victoria and is owned 31.1% by Singapore Power, 19.9% by State Grid Corporation of China with 49% publicly owned.