Jemena takes action on bushfire risk


Tuesday, 14 November, 2023

Jemena takes action on bushfire risk

Energy company Jemena has partnered with engineering service provider Zinfra on an extensive work program that 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.

REFCLs are a type of 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.

The REFCL program was developed and mandated across Victoria as an outcome of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission.

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.”

Jemena and Zinfra have worked together on a number of past projects, and maintain a strong relationship.

“Zinfra has previously undertaken REFCL works across the AusNet network, proving our capability in delivering a project of this kind,” said Zinfra Program Manager Nic Stringer.

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

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

“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.

For more information, visit,-bushfires-and-summer-safety.

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