This report reviews all options to reduce the risk of catastrophic bushfires from the electricity supply.
The Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established to review all options to reduce the risk of catastrophic bushfires from the electricity supply. The Taskforce prepared a report, which was presented to the Victorian Government on 30 September 2011.
The Taskforce has been supported by a Stakeholder Reference Group and a Victorian Government Interdepartmental Working Group. The members of the Taskforce, Stakeholder Reference Group and Interdepartmental Working Group have a broad range of skills, knowledge and experience, including in network and non-network technology solutions, bushfires, risk management and consumer behaviour. This mix of skills has facilitated a thorough examination of, and robust debate on, all the issues.
The electricity distributors, Country Fire Authority and Energy Safe Victoria have been actively considering how to reduce the likelihood of powerlines starting bushfires, and provided the outcomes of their considerations to the Taskforce.
New information that was not available to the Royal Commission has been gathered and considered. This information related to:
- the energy required to ignite a bushfire under a range of conditions
- variation in fire loss consequence across Victoria
- new technologies that substantially reduce the likelihood of powerlines starting bushfires.
The Taskforce commissioned customer research that provided a better understanding of the trade-off that the community would support between reducing the risk of bushfires and the consequent impacts on the cost of electricity, supply reliability, and on the environment and landowners.
Meetings were held with regional and rural communities at seven centres around Victoria and the Taskforce received written submissions to its Consultation Paper.
Field trials provided valuable information to assist the Taskforce in making its recommendations.
The Taskforce‘s recommendations prioritise actions to reduce the likelihood of bushfire from powerlines to those areas of Victoria that have the highest fire loss consequence. By doing so, the increase in the cost of electricity should be manageable for Victorians, while minimising adverse impacts on supply reliability, the environment and landowners.
Taskforce members have undertaken the necessary due diligence of all the information that is available at the time of writing this report. They have applied their expertise and professional judgement to make the recommendations in this report. However, the Taskforce recognises that new information will become available in the future, and recommend