In July 2010 the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC) recommended (Recommendation 27) that the State amend the Regulations under the Electricity Safety Act 1998 to progressively replace all single wire earth return (SWER) and 22 kilovolt powerlines with new technologies to reduce bushfire risk– Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The VBRC also suggested that an expert taskforce be established to advise on the best means of achieving the intent of this Recommendation.
The subsequent Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce (PBST) made its report to Government in September 2011.
This report indicated that the optimal means of reducing bushfire risk from SWER and 22kV powerlines was a mixture of powerline replacement, automatic circuit reclosers (ACRs) on SWER lines, and rapid earth fault current limiters (REFCLs) on select 22kV powerlines. The PBST also indicated the need for further research and development – noting that REFCLs had not previously been used for bushfire suppression.
In December 2011 the Government accepted the PBST's recommendations, and established the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP). One of the PBSP's principle tasks has been conducting a research program to determine the optimal way to deploy REFCLs for bushfire prevention. By November 2015 the research program was complete, and informed an initial draft of the Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Amendment Regulations 2015.
The Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 makes a number of requirements in respect of subordinate legislation – including regulations. These include a requirement to undertake public consultation on the proposed regulations. Where economic impacts are potentially significant, a regulatory impact statement (RIS) must also be prepared. The RIS must be independently assessed.
On 25 November 2015 the Minister for Energy and Resources initiated public consultation a draft of the proposed Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Amendment Regulations 2015, and accompanying RIS.
The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) assesses the costs and benefits of the proposed regulations and possible alternatives. The RIS concludes that the proposed regulations provide significant reduction in public exposure to powerline bushfire risk, and provide an improvement to power supply reliability, whilst constraining consumer costs to the lowest possible level.
In response to the proposed regulations and RIS, the Government received a total of seven submissions:
- AusNet Services (PDF, 780.3 KB)
- Nexans - Olex (PDF, 516.9 KB)
- Park Orchards Ratepayers Association Inc. (DOCX, 1.0 MB)
- Powercor (PDF, 678.4 KB)
- United Energy (PDF, 1.0 MB)
- Submission by Bill Carman (DOCX, 16.0 KB)
- Inter-capital group - cover letter by Angus Nichols (DOCX, 13.9 KB)
- Inter-captial group(DOCX, 137.7 KB)
The views and opinions expressed within each submission belong solely to its author and are not endorsed by the Victorian Government or the Minister for Energy and Resources.
Accessible versions will be published here shortly. Until then, contact Dr Neil Saul, if you need further information about these documents.
After due consideration of the matters raised in the submissions, on 1 May 2016 the Government enacted the Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Amendment Regulations 2016
The Statement of Reasons describes how each submission was considered, and how it influenced the final design of the regulations.
The regulations apply heightened standards to powerline construction in particular areas. Maps of these areas are available from the Central Plan Office as "LEGL Plans".
To locate the map you are after:
- Visit Landata
- Select the Central Plan Office under the Title & Property Information heading
- Select LEGL Plans and enter the following codes in the reference number field.
|16-199||Baw Baw North – Thomson Dam|
|16-200||Baw Baw South|
|16-203||East Gippsland – Swifts Creek|
|16-205||Ballarat and Creswick|
|16-208||Mount Alexander – Muckleford Nature Reserve|
|16-209||Mount Alexander - Newstead|
|16-210||Hepburn – Newstead extension|
|16-223||Flowerdale - Hazeldene|
|16-228||Otway Ranges extension|
|16-230||Colac Otway Ranges|