fallen tree on power cables after storm

We are working hard to improve the energy resilience of Victorian communities at high-risk of power outages in the face of increasing extreme weather.

  • Construction has begun on the Corryong Microgrid
  • The Telstra Hydrogen Fuel Cell Pilot project has now been fully commissioned
  • The Network Outage Review into February’s storms has released its interim report
  • All 26 energy resilience systems of the Energy Resilience Solutions (ERS) program are set to be completed by September, following the launch of the Monbulk RSL system in May.
Man addresses hall of seated community in Corryong
Corryong engages over its incoming microgrid.

Corryong Microgrid

Once complete, the $28.6 million Corryong Microgrid will be able to power more than 900 local households and businesses for up to five days.

It will operate independently of the grid during power outages. This is referred to as ‘islanding’- helping isolated communities to keep their power on when the grid goes down.

A microgrid is a small subset of the electricity grid that provides energy generation and storage at a local level. They can incorporate renewable generation, such as from solar panels or wind turbines, as well as battery storage. The Corryong Microgrid uses:

  • a centralised 4.98 megawatt battery, diesel generator and advanced switching technology
  • a further solar, battery and diesel generator system installed by RACV Solar at Corryong Police Station
  • other solar and battery systems throughout the community.

The Corryong Microgrid is expected to be operating in summer 2026.

Funding for the Corryong Microgrid has been shared between the:

  • Australian Government, $7 million through the Disaster Ready Fund
  • Victorian Government, $3 million
  • AusNet Enterprise, $18.6 million.

Community Microgrid and Sustainable Energy Program

As well as Corryong, the Community Microgrid and Sustainable Energy Program is also funding microgrids in Mallacoota and Omeo.

These three towns were identified as the priority for new resilient energy infrastructure to support communities during extreme weather following the Black Summer 2019-20 bushfires.

The program is providing more reliable power supply and building energy-resilient rural communities.

It is doing this through supporting the installation of solar, batteries and other distributed energy resources for a range of buildings, including essential service buildings, commercial and industrial buildings, and households.

A hydrogen fuel cell generator at a Telstra site
A hydrogen fuel cell generator at Neerim North.

Telstra Hydrogen Fuel Cell Pilot

Five mobile network renewable hydrogen back-up systems will boost resilience during storms and other extreme weather around:

  • Neerim North
  • Coldstream
  • Kinglake
  • Christmas Hills
  • Chum Creek.

Hydrogen fuel cells work like batteries, producing electricity using the fuel supplied. The fuel cell generator sets will be equipped with enough renewable hydrogen for a minimum 72-hour running capacity.

This back-up power is at least 10 times more than prior battery capacity. The 10-kilowatt renewable hydrogen generators will maintain mobile connectivity when mains power outages occur around these five sites, which suffered outages during the powerful 2021 storms.

This pilot is one of the projects funded through the $6.6 million Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund. It received $1.1 million funding.

Renewable Hydrogen Commercialisation Pathways Fund

Volgren Australia, Viva Energy, Energys Australia and Boundary Power are also undertaking hydrogen pilots, trials and demonstrations as part of the program.

In June 2023, Boundary Power successfully commissioned Australia’s first solar-renewable hydrogen standalone power system. Similarly, Telstra is now trialling how renewable hydrogen can play a role in decarbonising energy supply and building energy resilience.

The Telstra Hydrogen Fuel Cells were manufactured by Energys Australia at their Mulgrave factory. Energys Australia has also been supported through the Commercialisation Pathways Fund for a renewable hydrogen production facility that will facilitate the uptake of renewable hydrogen in Victoria.

AusNet workers conduct line repairs after the February storms in Mirboo North
AusNet workers conduct storm repairs in Mirboo North.

Network Outage Review interim report

The Network Outage Review into the operational response of electricity transmission and distribution businesses to February’s storms is moving into its next phase

The independent review’s interim report has been released for consultation on Engage Victoria. Consultation sessions will also be held in Emerald and Mirboo North throughout July.

To view the Network Outage Review interim report, visit Engage Victoria.

Network Outage Review

The panel (Rosemary Sinclair, Gerard Brody and Kevin Kehl) was appointed following the 13 February storms that left more than 530,000 electricity customers without power at their peak.

About 90 per cent of customers who lost power in the 13 February storms were restored within the first 72 hours. The hardest hit communities in AusNet’s distribution area – including Mirboo North, Emerald, Cockatoo, Gembrook and Monbulk – experienced prolonged outages.

What communities have said

  • making sure damaged infrastructure such as fallen powerlines were safe is most important
  • implementing temporary generation – particularly for main street services such as petrol stations and grocery stores – would improve their resilience and safety
  • accurate and timely information about the situation was critical to know what was happening, and when they were likely to have power restored. The interim report notes AusNet’s Outage Tracker failed and businesses should do more to communicate with customers with limited phone and internet access.

What's next?

Having listened to affected communities and investigated the processes of the privately owned power companies that own the network, the panel will make recommendations on their operational response. It is looking at:

  • contingency planning
  • timely and effective resource deployment
  • restoring supply.

The review has also engaged and considered input from:

  • The Australian Energy Market Operator
  • Australian Energy Regulator
  • Energy Safe Victoria
  • Essential Services Commission
  • Emergency Management Victoria
  • other regulators.

The final report and recommendations will be released in August.

Page last updated: 08/07/24