United Energy installs new bushfire safety device in Dromana

Work to install world-leading technology designed to improve the safety of powerlines in Dromana and the surrounding area is underway as part of United Energy’s extensive safety program.

The Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL) device minimises the chance of a spark occurring if a powerline comes into contact with a tree limb or the ground, thereby reducing the risk of fires.

Work began on installing the new device at the Dromana Zone Substation in July and it is expected to be operating in time for the coming summer.

Crews are currently working on overhead powerlines and other infrastructure in the area and this work shall continue for the remainder of the year to ensure the network can safely accommodate the new technology.

The Dromana Zone Substation supports 16,359 customers, supplied by seven feeders, 270 km of overhead powerlines and 33km of underground cable.

United Energy’s Lead Engineer on the project, David Wilkinson, said United Energy was voluntarily installing the devices to protect the community.

“We are focused on delivering safe power to homes and business and these devices will significantly improve the safety of the infrastructure and reduce the risk of fires starting from electricity assets,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“The Mornington Peninsula region is one of United Energy’s highest bushfire risk areas and our crews will be upgrading infrastructure throughout 2019 in the Dromana area to accommodate this new technology.”

REFCL devices are also being rolled out in other parts of the state as directed by the Victorian Government in response to recommendations from the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.

This is the third device to be installed in the United Energy network area. United Energy led the world with the first system used to prevent bushfires installed in Frankston South as part of a 2009 trial and the second installed in Mornington last November.

Since the devices have been in operation, they have activated more than 530 times and will again be in operation this summer. Some planned outages will need to occur during the installation of the REFCL to allow crews to safely access the network. Impacted customers will be directly notified of these outages.

“We are always mindful of the community when scheduling planned outages to safely upgrade the network. For example, commissioning tests will be undertaken at night to reduce the impact of possible supply interruptions. We thank customers for their understanding as we work to further improve the safety of our network,” Mr Wilkinson said.

The REFCL is just one of a series of safety devices on the network, designed to reduce bushfire risk and improve safety.