Technology designed and pioneered in Victoria to prevent bushfires is attracting attention form overseas.
Powercor's Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL) were developed following changes to regulations as a result of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in 2010.
The REFCL devices are installed on powerlines and act as a safety switch when fire or falling debris strikes powerlines or the lines hit the ground.
American electricity distribution networks took interest in the project after evidence showed how effective the REFCL devices were in detecting faults.
"During devastating bushfires in California, we saw electricity networks act to minimise the risk of fires starting from powerlines by cutting power to whole regions," Powercor REFCL program delivery manager Andrew Bailey said.
"Our engineers have shared knowledge with representatives from Pacific Gas and Electricity in California where they are now piloting the installation of REFCLs.
"The learnings we have gained over the past five years may help give companies like PG&E an alternative to pre-emptively switching-off large parts of their networks ahead of times of high fire danger."
Powercor is about to begin the final stage of a seven-year program to rollout the technology in Victoria. The rollout began in 2019 in areas including Eaglehawk, Castlemaine, Maryborough, Gisborne and Woodend.
Bendigo and Charlton saw the limiters introduced in April this year. Installation of the devices is expected to be complete by 2023 when it will help protect 300,000 homes and businesses serviced by 20,000km of powerlines in Victoria's highest bushfire-risk areas.
During the last fire season, Powercor's REFCLs were activiated 650 times, helping identify faults that could cause bushfires.
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