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Power outages expected for installation of new technology in Mitchell Shire

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By Pam Kiriakidis

Mitchell Shire residents can expect upcoming power outages from AusNet in October as it installs leading technology to protect power supply against bushfires.

AusNet is installing a Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter, REFCL, in hazardous bushfire risk areas, including Kilmore and Beveridge.

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The power supply company is planning for two further outages to complete the REFCL on Saturday, October 1 from 8.30am to 5pm, as well as Thursday, October 20 and Friday, October 21, from 8.30pm to 5am.

The roll-out is part of the State Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program to enhance safety across Victoria.

REFCL acts like a safety switch and rapidly switches off the power to fallen lines, preventing bushfires.

It is estimated that REFCL could cut powerline fires by about 50 per cent in Victoria.

AusNet shared a letter to residents in affected areas earlier this month to remind residents of the upcoming outages.

Head of communications Karen Winsbury advised residents to keep doors closed and update their contact information to receive updates when power supply was affected.

“Anyone who needs power for any particular reason, like what we call our life support customers, they have plans in place and can make other arrangements,” she said.

“This time of year, it’s pretty good because it’s not too cold and not too hot, so make sure you close all your doors, keep the heat in, and don’t open your fridge too much.

“Charge up your power banks if you need to, if you’re working from home, you can make arrangements to work elsewhere.

“People should make sure their phone number is registered with their retailer because that’s the way we are able to notify them.”

A Beveridge resident who did not want to be named said she would like to see residents be more consulted ahead of planned circumstances.

The residents said she had experienced about six outages since December, from 8.30am to 4pm.

She said she and her neighbours had their power cut off for AusNet to perform maintenance on the electricity network within the area. 

The resident suggested AusNet could set up a hub at Beveridge Community Centre or install a generator for future power outages.

She said she was concerned about AusNet’s communication with residents, because not everyone could receive SMS.

“It’s just too big a blanket to put over that we’ll just send you an SMS, there’s just so many [people],” she said.

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