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Powercor crews have carried out a series of forensic patrols of powerlines in the Otway Ranges, in an effort to boost reliability in the Apollo Bay and Colac areas.

The patrols, which ran over the past two weeks, involved crews making detailed observations of every pole, insulator and other infrastructure along more than 216kms of powerlines between Colac, Forrest, Apollo Bay and Wye River.

These powerlines are located in one of Powercor’s highest bushfire risk areas and most difficult terrains.

With poles often located in hard-to-reach places, crews used drone surveillance technology and hiked on-foot through dense forest to reach all Powercor assets along powerlines, known as feeders, supplied from the Colac zone substation.

The detailed patrols are in addition to Powercor’s regular and extensive inspection program.

Powercor senior reliability officer, Peter Goode, led the patrols throughout the week and said the company was doing everything it could to ensure the power supply in the area was as reliable as it could be.

“We understand there has been some community concern about power outages and we have been conducting these patrols to make sure we are proactively identifying potential issues that may impact power in to the future,” Mr Goode said.

“When we identify an issue, we are addressing it and making sure it doesn’t lead to a fault and a potential outage for customers down the track.”

During the patrols, the crews identified several tree branches and loose bark in heavily vegetated areas that can affect reliability of supplies when it blows into powerlines in strong winds. In addition, a damaged kiosk substation was found and replaced near Forrest that may have contributed to some of the recent faults experienced by customers in the Colac-Apollo Bay area. Repairs have also been arranged for other items detected during the patrols which have the potential to cause a future fault.

Field testing is also underway on the new Auto Switchover Scheme. A dedicated network team is working as quickly as possible to reinstate the scheme, further improving reliability for the region. The aim is to have the scheme operating by March 2020.

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