Lessons From Australia in Wildfire Risk Management

Jan. 15, 2021
Australian utilities reflect on the key changes and learnings since the Black Saturday wildfire.

Powercor Australia and AusNet Services are the major electricity companies within two of the highest wildfire risk regions in Australia, and arguably the world. Both networks have a history of significant wildfire events, the most notable being referred to as Black Saturday. The Black Saturday event occurred on February 9, 2009 where 173 lives were lost, the majority of those attributed to powerline initiated fires. Eleven years on, much has changed.

In this webinar, Phil Bryant, Manager Network Safety for AusNet Services and Dene Ward, Network Safety and Bushfire Mitigation Manager for Powercor Australia reflect on the key changes and learnings since Black Saturday from a Network Service Provider's perspective. Phil and Dene discuss the key drivers that have resulted in a material improvement in network safety performance. The regulatory operating environment is also explored, particularly that of network safety legislation in response to the Black Saturday fires. Finally, they look at the road ahead for continued network risk mitigation within an operating environment of longer summers and more frequent extreme fire danger days.


Dene Ward 

Dene has worked in the electricity distribution industry for the past 30 years, initially starting as a graduate Engineer for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. During this time he has held a number of engineering and leadership positions.He currently holds a senior management role as Network Safety and Bushfire Mitigation Manager for Powercor Australia and CitiPower. The role is responsible for the strategic management of the fire and safety risk across the Powercor and CitiPower networks, including oversight of the businesses’ compliance to safety and bushfire regulatory obligations.

Phil Bryant 

Phil has over 38 years’ experience in the electricity distribution and transmission industry working in operational, technical, regulatory, and strategic leadership positions. He is currently the Manager Network Safety for AusNet Services, Australia. The role is responsible for the development, implementation and compliance with network safety management systems that ensure energy services to customers and communities are provided safely and efficiently.

Matthew Cleary 

Matthew Cleary is TE Connectivity’s Australian & New Zealand Utility Sales Manager with 16 years of experience serving primarily energy utilities within this region. He began his career as a Service Technician, commissioning and maintaining HV apparatus across Australia’s utility & industrial sectors. Upon the completion of his trade qualification, he undertook and completed a degree in Electrical Engineering (majoring in Power) at the University of Southern Queensland. Since then, Cleary has dedicated his career to engineering and operational roles with global product manufacturers across the energy industry gaining valuable experience managing product lifecycles. He loves nothing more than using his practical and technical background to help solve unique customer challenges with his wide-ranging industry knowledge and experience. 

TE Connectivity sponsored this webinar as part of the T&D World Wildfire and Risk Mitigation Conference in December 2020. 

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