EnergySafe Magazine Summer 2019, issue 56 - Page 11

esv.vic.gov.au Current and recent fires around Australia, especially in New South Wales and Queensland, are a timely reminder that we are already in the midst of a long, hot and dry bushfire season. Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world and Energy Safe Victoria has a vital role to play in ensuring that electricity infrastructure businesses are mitigating the risk of catastrophic fire. ESV has also established working groups with the CSIRO, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority to develop and share data and to develop new approaches to improve decision-making. Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp has indicated that the major concern this season is for the east of the state, extending to the Great Dividing Range. He said these areas were now experiencing their third consecutive year of rainfall deficit. In respect of the reliability of Victoria’s power supply this summer, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says it remains focussed on the real risk to power system operations. However, it says it has worked diligently to prepare the system appropriately, including the procurement of emergency resources to manage possible high-risk scenarios such as extended heatwaves, bushfires and unplanned generation or transmission outages. He warned that Victorians could not afford to become complacent in any part of the state and emphasised that although the emergency management sector was better prepared than ever before, it always relied on the community to do its part “as community safety is a shared responsibility”. ESV plays a major role in that shared responsibility by monitoring, auditing and enforcing compliance with the safety regulations and Acts associated with powerline bushfire safety. ESV has increased focus on data-driven decision-making, based on vegetation compliance, equipment audits, events and investigations, fires and asset failures. In conjunction with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, ESV is continuing to roll out the Victorian Government’s 10-year, $750 million Powerline Bushfire Safety program which delivers on recommendations from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The aim is to reduce the risk of bushfires caused by electrical assets without causing significant impact to electricity supply reliability. AEMO says the introduction of these resources delivers a welcome improvement to reliability and reduces the need to procure further out-of- market reserves. Pre-summer checks underway As Victoria heads into another potentially disastrous fire period, ESV’s Line Clearance Assurance Field Officers have been carrying out pre-summer checks of powerlines across the state. These audits ensure the minimum clearance space between vegetation and powerlines has been established. Where the field officers find that vegetation is too close to the line, ESV follows up to ensure action is undertaken to make the site compliant. It is the responsibility of electricity distribution businesses and relevant councils to maintain adequate clearance in accordance with the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2015 (the regulations) and the Code of Practice for Electric Line Clearance (the Code); a schedule to the regulations. Compliance with the regulations and code is required to provide appropriate standards of electrical safety. Failing to manage these risks may result in electrocution and fire (including bushfire), or affect the reliability of electricity supply. The pre-summer audits program includes: » ensuring distribution business system records correctly reflect the field status of their networks » completing field inspections throughout the fire danger period to assess electric line clearance compliance » ensuring businesses comply with their electric line clearance management plans. So far this season ESV field officers have been auditing powerlines around Cann River, Dromana, Hastings, Bendigo, Nhill, Leongatha, Warragul, Traralgon, Kinglake, Sunbury, Coolaroo, Terang, Stanhope, Cobden, Rosebud, Frankston South and Bendigo. There are more audits planned throughout the summer period. The required distance is determined by the electric line voltage, the length of the span and the powerline bushfire risk rating of the location. Those regions rated as Hazardous Bushfire Risk Areas are a particular focus over the summer fire danger period for electric line clearance audits. 11