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In an effort to increase energy resilience in high-risk bushfire areas, the Victorian Government has announced new powerline and microgrid initiatives for regional communities.

Residents of an additional 13 local government areas (LGAs) with high bushfire risk can now apply to underground their private powerlines through the Private Overhead Electric Line scheme.

Eligible locations now include the Alpine, Baw Baw, Benalla, East Gippsland, Indigo, Mansfield, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington, Wodonga and Yarra Ranges LGAs.

Replacing private overhead powerlines is well advanced across Victoria. To date, 736km of overhead powerlines have been replaced in high-risk bushfire areas through the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program.

The scheme is open for any partially or fully bare-wire private powerlines, or any insulated private powerlines subject to a current urgent or significant defect notice.

Consultation has also been launched on the Community Microgrids and Sustainable Energy Program, with communities in three East Gippsland towns invited to have their say on how energy-resilient microgrids could operate in their region.

Following the 2019-20 bushfires around Mallacoota, Omeo and Corryong, some areas were disconnected for more than a month from the state’s grid.

Network resilience projects incorporating solar, battery, hot water heat pumps and/or smart energy management devices can help communities stay safe during bushfire emergencies if powerlines are affected.

Communities and affected stakeholders in and around Mallacoota, Omeo and Corryong can submit expressions of interest for subsidised energy systems in their homes, businesses, and essential service sites.

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