Victorians use electricity every day. It is essential to the way that we run our lives, our businesses, and our economy.

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1 Bushfire Start Minimisation Review Trial of remote area power supplies Victorians use electricity every day. It is essential to the way that we run our lives, our businesses, and our economy. However, electricity is inherently dangerous and is the cause of a small proportion of Victoria s bushfires 1. Victoria experienced catastrophic bushfires on Saturday, 7 February A small number of bushfires started on that day by the electricity network. A Bushfires Royal Commission was established by the Victorian Government to investigate the causes and responses to the bushfires. The Bushfires Royal Commission has recommended, and the Victorian Government has accepted, that action needs to be taken to reduce the risk that the electricity network starts bushfires. The Victorian Government, through Energy Safe Victoria, has established the Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce (the Taskforce) to investigate the full range of options to reduce the risk that the electricity network starts bushfires. The Taskforce will be conducting a number of trials this summer to get better information on some of the options that are being considered. Trial of remote area power supply One of the trials we are doing this summer is to give 10 households in Victoria their own remote area power supply. Those households will generate their own electricity rather than be supplied from the electricity grid. The remote area power supply will consist of: A large battery set (20kWh) consisting of two batteries the batteries will provide a continuous supply of electricity to the household and uses a leading edge technology (zinc bromine) Solar panels (either 3kW or 5kW) the solar panel will recharge the battery when there is sufficient energy from the sun A back up diesel generator (7kVA) a diesel generator will also be provided to charge the battery if there has not been sufficient energy from the sun. The generator will be provided with a full tank of diesel (approximately 80 litres). The remote area power supply will be supplied in three packages a container including the battery and all associated electronic equipment, a container with the back up diesel generator and the solar panels. Energy Safe Victoria, on behalf of the Taskforce, will engage a local registered electrical contractor to connect the remote area power supply to the customer s premises. 1 Around 1 1.5% of Victoria s bushfires are started by the electricity network. However this increases to up to 4% on days of extreme fire risk. Most bushfires are started by lightning or arsonists. SP Ausnet and Powercor Page 1 of 5

2 The trial will initially run over this summer (from early December to early March). We would prefer that customers continue with the trial over several years, although customers can choose to leave the trial at the end of the initial three month period. Why are remote area power supplies being trialled? The most effective way to reduce the risk that the electricity network starts bushfires is for electricity users to generate their own electricity and to remove the existing electricity network. However, remote area power supplies are relatively expensive except for households that are in areas that are not densely populated, where long electricity lines are required to supply a small electricity load. In addition to the potential bushfire safety benefits, there are other advantages for households generating their own electricity it can be a greener option (that is, it may produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions), the electricity supply may be more reliable and of better quality, there are no more electricity bills to pay and no more reliance on the electricity companies for electricity. However, there are some disadvantages and risks for households generating their own electricity they will need to be more aware of their energy supply and use, and they must take responsibility for the safe operation and maintenance of the remote area power supply, including periodic refuelling of the back up diesel generator, annual servicing of the system and replacing components of the system as they fail over time. While the operation and maintenance of a well designed remote area power supply is minimal, it is not as convenient as being connected to the electricity grid. A remote area power supply may therefore not be a suitable option for some households. The objective of the trial is to get a better understanding of the willingness of households to accept these disadvantages, given the potential benefits. We will survey trial participants before and after the three month trial to assist us with this understanding. How much electricity will be supplied from the remote area power supply? The remote area power supply will deliver approximately 5,000 watts continuously and over 8,400 watts for short periods of time without the generator. The generator will come on automatically when needed so the system can provide over 10,000 watts when the generator is running. The remote area power supplies have been sized so that they will be suitable for households with up to the average daily energy consumption. Every household and every appliance uses electricity differently. For your information, the table attached provides you with an indication of how much electricity is used by some appliances. SP Ausnet and Powercor Page 2 of 5

3 How large are the containers for the batteries and back up generator? The remote area power supply will include two containers, one each for the batteries and back up generator. The containers are each 1.1 metres high by 1.0 metres wide by 1.7 metres long. A photo of the two containers is provided below. The solar panel shown in this photo is smaller than the one that will be supplied as part of the trial. How big is the solar panel? The solar panel has been sized so that it will be able to recharge the battery completely each day when there is sufficient energy from the sun. The solar panel is very large (between approximately 24 square metres and 40 square metres depending on the average energy consumed by the customer each day). It will need to face north and not be shaded. The solar panel can be placed on the roof of the customer s house, or other suitable building, or a frame can be built to put it on. How often will the back up diesel generator operate? The back up diesel generator will only need to run when there has not been enough energy from the sun for the solar panel to recharge the battery, for example, on rainy days, or when the daily energy usage is higher. It will need to run more during winter than summer. On many days, it will not need to run at all. SP Ausnet and Powercor Page 3 of 5

4 The back up diesel generator will generally start and stop automatically when it is needed. The amount of time the back up generator will need to run will depend on the amount of electricity that has been used and how much charge remains in the battery. If the back up generator needs to run, it will run for about three hours. The customer can choose to run the diesel generator at those times during the day when the noise from the diesel generator is less disturbing for everyone. At a minimum, the back up diesel generator will need to run for a few minutes once a month in accordance with the manufacturer s instructions, for maintenance purposes. Where can I get more information? You can get more information on the trial by one or more of the following: 1. Calling us on Sending an to 3. Looking at our website SP Ausnet and Powercor Page 4 of 5

5 Attachment: Approximate electricity consumption by appliance Appliance Rated Watts Rated kva Rated kva (Appliances) (To operate ( To start appliance) appliance) Air conditioner (Evaporative model) Air conditioner (Reverse cycle) Clothes dryer Coffee percolator Can opener Deep freezer Disposal unit Dishwasher Domestic water pumps Exhaust fan Food processor Floor polisher Frypan Hair dryer Hot water service Iron Kettle or jug Lights Microwave Oven Radio Radiator Refrigerator (home) Sewing machine Space heater Television Toaster Washing machine Welder minimum Note: 1 kva is 1,000 volt amps SP Ausnet and Powercor Page 5 of 5

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