Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) has prosecuted Powercor for numerous powerline clearance breaches, three of which resulted in fires.
The three grass fires occurred in January near the townships of Rochester, Port Campbell and Strathmerton.
Powercor has been charged with:
- Breaching key provisions of the Code of Practice for Electric Line Clearance in contravention of section 90 of the Electricity Safety Act 1998). If proven, Powercor could be fined up to $39,642 per charge.
- Failing to minimise the risks to property from a supply network (section 98(b) of the Electricity Safety Act 1998). If proven, Powercor could be fined up to $237,855 per charge.
- Failing to comply with a bushfire mitigation plan (section 113B(2) of the Electricity Safety Act 1998). If proven, this could attract a fine of up to $237,855 per charge.
“All three grass fires were caused by tree branches coming into contact with powerlines,” ESV said in a statement.
“ESV has further charged Powercor with an additional 189 breaches of Electric Line Clearance regulations in a corridor that stretches from Mildura to Shepparton.
“In each case, powerlines were either touching or very close to vegetation.”
The regulations prescribe minimum distances between powerlines and vegetation to mitigate electricity safety risks, including fire starts.
Distribution businesses are obliged to comply with the Act and regulations.