United Energy has completed a two year trial of technology designed to protect powerlines from the effects of extreme weather and improve bushfire safety in Cape Schanck, Victoria.

The trial of a new covered powerline system to replace existing bare powerlines was held in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, as part of a project to research and develop a safer Victorian electricity network.

United Energy Principal Engineer, Distribution, Jim Tsirikis, said the program aimed to introduce new technology solutions that could provide significant fire safety and reliability benefits compared to traditional bare powerlines.

“United Energy is focused on delivering safe and reliable power to our customers and this trial is one way we are working to improve our network,” Mr Tsirikis said.

“Covered powerlines or conductors protect against outages caused by an object such as tree branches or animals touching powerlines.

“The technology also reduces the risk of fires starting from electricity assets by eliminating sparks if something does come into contact with the powerline,” Mr Tsirikis said.

The trial, conducted along a 2-kilometre stretch of powerlines, began in 2017 after extensive research to identify the conductors best suited to Victorian weather conditions. Covered conductors were chosen that were easily retrofitted to existing bare powerlines and could span long distances, making them a cost-effective solution.

“Cape Schanck was chosen as a test site because it is a high bushfire risk area susceptible to strong winds and salt spray – conditions common to our network,” Mr Tsirikis said.

A phase of rigorous system design and testing was crucial to the project’s success, and it has since achieved significant network safety improvements. The next step in the project will see  the covered conductors rolled out network-wide.

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