Electricity distributor United Energy has completed a project to underground powerlines as part of a $265,000 investment to improve safety and reliability in one of the highest risk bushfire areas along the Mornington Peninsula.

Specialist crews moved almost 600m of high voltage lines underground along Valley Views Lane in Main Ridge.

At the site, there are at least 55 large pine trees located on the side of a slope that had been leaning towards lines, posing a risk of starting a fire or causing a power outage if a nearby tree or limb fell.

Project Manager, Rob Doyle, said undergrounding the power lines had reduced the risk of fires starting from electrical assets as well as minimising unplanned outages in the future.

“This line is located on the north-west face of the slope, meaning any potential fire start would move quickly given the hot summer winds which normally come in from that direction,” Mr Doyle said.

Earlier in 2020, one of the large trees fell onto the powerlines, affecting power to residents for 12 hours.

Mr Doyle said undergrounding powerlines was just one way United Energy was improving safety in the Mornington Peninsula.

“The peninsula is a high-risk area for fires and throughout the year we have continued conducting critical maintenance and major projects to ensure the network is ready for summer,” Mr Doyle said.

“Our network’s make up and terrain is diverse and that’s why we are continually incorporating a range of different initiatives, such as undergrounding lines, to improve safety.”

United Energy has voluntarily installed three bushfire safety devices, known as Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters, in Frankston, Mornington and Dromana and these will be in service this summer.

These devices protect more than 67,000 customers and 982km of high voltage powerlines across much of the Mornington Peninsula.

United Energy has also installed more than 215km of aerial bundled cable in high-risk bushfire areas, protecting powerlines from clashing and potentially causing outages or even fires.

Ongoing safety work includes an extensive vegetation inspection and cutting program.

United Energy has completed 100 per cent of inspections in high-risk areas and its tree cutting program to ensure safe clearances around powerlines is on track.

So far, crews have cut 23,400 spans (distance between two power poles) including more than 7,500 in the Mornington Peninsula.

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