Testing will take place this week on technology installed in Terang which aims to reduce the risk of bushfires similar to those which devastated the south-west on St Patrick's Day three years ago.
Powercor crews have spent more than a year on the $27 million project to upgrade the Terang zone substation to prepare the network for the new Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter system.
The upgrade has almost doubled the size of the Terang substation and more than 200 local planned outages were required to allow crews to safely conduct upgrades which at times required specialist vehicles to access poles and other network equipment in wet, boggy conditions.
When complete, the Terang REFCL aims to protect powerlines in an area of about 2500 square kilometres, reaching as far north as Chatsworth, west to Caramut, south to Port Campbell and east to Scotts Creek.
Testing will begin on Monday with no power outages planned, but crews will be in place to respond if unplanned outages occur.
The estimated cost of the REFCL system statewide has been tipped to reach $1 billion.
Powercor infrastructure caused four main bushfires in the south-west on St Patrick's Day, March 17, 2018 - at Gazette, Camperdown/Gnotuk, Terang/Cobden and The Sisters/Garvoc.
The fires destroyed 26 homes, 57 sheds, more than 10,000 head of stock as the flames tore through more than 14,600 hectares, devastating farming communities.
Powercor REFCL manager Andrew Bailey said having the technology at Terang represented a significant investment in terms of bushfire safety for the local network.
"Terang will be Powercor's 16th zone substation to be fitted with REFCL technology, and there's no doubt these devices are keeping communities safer," Mr Bailey said.
"The testing this week is the final phase in the delivery of this important project for Terang. It allows us to validate the network upgrades to support the safety device and confirm that the REFCL is operating in line with the performance levels we require.
"While no outages are planned with this work, we have crews ready to respond quickly and as safely as possible to get power back on to homes and businesses if unplanned outages do happen."
Terang will be one of five locations in the region to be protected by a REFCL, with devices already installed in Camperdown, Colac and Koroit and construction work starting later this month on a device at Hamilton.
When all south-west devices are completed, a network of 5573km of high voltage powerlines will be protected, including 28 feeder lines covering 50,000 customers.
Powercor is on track for its scheduled rollout of REFCL devices across central and western Victoria, which is due for completion in 2023 as per the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommendations.
Powercor has completed its other VBRC commitments, including the installation of more than 1200 enhanced automatic circuit reclosures, 220,000 armour rods and vibration dampers and 1800 line spacers.
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