Powercor has switched on an updated Auto Switchover Scheme to improve power reliability to the Apollo Bay region in Victoria.
The scheme allows power to be automatically redirected to flow in an alternative direction if a fault occurs on one of the two high voltage feeders into Apollo Bay.
A previous version of the scheme had been incompatible with a new bushfire mitigation device, known as a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter (REFCL), installed in the area. In December 2019, Powercor temporarily disabled the scheme to allow the REFCL to be turned on for the fire danger period.
A dedicated team has been working to develop and test a new switchover scheme that can be operated with the REFCL.
Powercor’s REFCL Technical Director, Andrew Bailey, thanked the community for their patience while the team developed the solution.
“This was a complex problem and we are pleased to now have in place a solution that will allow us to operate a safer and more reliable network for the Apollo Bay community,” Mr Bailey said.
The REFCL device installed in the Colac Zone Substation is part of Powercor’s extensive bushfire mitigation program and provides the high bushfire risk area extra protection. It works like a large safety switch on Powercor’s electricity network, reducing the risk of fires starting from electrical assets.
Since December, the Colac REFCL has operated ten times for permanent faults, including six faults on Total Fire Ban days, potentially stopping fires in one of the state’s highest bushfire risk areas.
Mr Bailey said while the scheme would improve reliability for Apollo Bay, power outages could still happen for a range of reasons, including trees falling over powerlines and wildlife interfering with electricity assets, therefore it was important that all communities were prepared for power outages.
“We always encourage people to be prepared and know what they would do if the power does go out, particularly ahead of extreme weather events,” Mr Bailey said.