Reducing bushfire risk in Melbourne’s north-west

We are incredibly pleased to have partnered with our client Jemena on an extensive work program which aims to reduce the risk of powerline-related bushfires in Melbourne’s north-west.

The program involved commissioning Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) technology in areas at increased risk of bushfire in the Jemena electricity network geographic area. The REFCL program was developed and mandated across Victoria as an outcome of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission.

REFCLs are state-of-the art electronic equipment designed to detect when one line out of a three-phase powerline has fallen to the ground, and reduce line voltage on the fallen line. The technology simultaneously boosts the voltage on the remaining overhead powerlines in service, ensuring that power can be maintained to homes and businesses while reducing the risk of a fire igniting.

Jemena Network Investment and Delivery Manager, David Speairs, said the work program represented a $50 million investment from Jemena.

“Extensive work was undertaken to ensure that REFCL technology could operate safely on our electricity network. We augmented our Coolaroo Zone Substation to accommodate the REFCL equipment, which included installation of a new control building, as well as moving strategic sections of our overhead powerlines underground to further mitigate bushfire risk.”

Zinfra and Jemena continue to maintain a strong relationship and have previously worked together on a number of projects. Zinfra Program Manager, Nic Stringer, said that to undertake these significant works, Jemena had to partner with a service provider they could trust.

“Zinfra has previously undertaken REFCL works across the AusNet network, proving our capability in delivering a project of this kind. We were able to bring some learnings from this work to Jemena.

“Safety – that of our people, the community and the environment - was a focus throughout the REFCL program for both Zinfra and Jemena,” he said.

Mr Speairs said the commissioning of the REFCL technology and receiving the Zone Substation compliance certificate from Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) was the culmination of two years of planning and work in the field.

“The completion of the project will ensure communities in north-west Melbourne will have a more secure power supply, and bushfire risks will be greatly reduced,” he concluded.

Jemena customers in Greenvale, Attwood, Oaklands Junction, Yuroke, Bulla, Mickleham & Konagaderra Springs will see the benefits of this technology in terms of improved reliability of electricity supply, in addition to the reduced risk of powerline-related bushfires.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.