Powercor’s General Manager of Regulation, Renate Vogt, attends a consultation

Powercor has announced it will explore and test a package of new resilience measures, including identifying areas in Victoria’s central highlands that could be home to community-scale microgrids.

The towns of Ballan, Trentham and Lancefield have been identified as potential locations for a microgrid – a standalone power network backed by a large-scale battery – capable of keeping the lights on and islanding the community in the event of a major power outage.

Other resilience measures proposed by Powercor include:

  • Building greater connections between different parts of the network
  • Fire-proof-wrapping and replacing of more wooden poles in high fire danger areas
  • Increasing the heights of dozens of powerlines in areas at risk of flooding
  • Expanding the fleet of emergency response vehicles able to support communities
  • Expanding the fleet of mobile large-scale generators to temporarily power communities

Powercor representatives met with community members in Ballarat to hear their views on the initiatives and road test a range of scenarios as part of its next five-year business plan, with a draft to be submitted to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in August 2024.

The measures have been developed following three years of extensive community engagement in central and western Victoria.

Powercor’s General Manager of Regulation, Renate Vogt, said the consultation session was another opportunity to hear directly from community members about the challenges they face when extreme weather impacts the power network and what they want utilities to invest in.

“As we are experiencing more intense weather events, we need to prioritise investments that build and maintain stronger networks and communities,” Ms Vogt said.

“Just as more extreme weather is increasing the risk of prolonged outages, our customers are becoming more dependent on electricity than ever before.

“We are listening to our customers to help us find solutions to build more resilient networks in the face of climate change, while keeping costs as low as possible.”

The proposed initiatives being explored are in addition to Powercor’s inspection and maintenance program that is undertaken year-round to keep the network safe and reliable.

Powercor will continue seeking feedback on proposed investment ideas and activities on a range of different topics, including renewable energy and affordability, that have been identified through earlier engagement.

Proposed solutions, associated costs and benefits will be tested with customers before the draft plans are published in August 2024. The final plans will be submitted to the AER for approval in January 2025.

Featured image: Powercor’s General Manager of Regulation, Renate Vogt, attends a consultation. Courtesy of Powercor.

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