New South Wales energy distributor, Ausgrid, has completed a safety program to ensure its electricity network is prepared for the upcoming bushfire season.

Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Armstrong, said the program included more than 190,000 air and ground inspections.

“Safety is our number one priority and these inspections are a key part of our annual bushfire safety program to identify and rectify any potential defects that might pose a risk,” Mr Armstrong said.

“Our network includes large areas which are at a higher risk of bushfires so every year in the cooler months, well before the bushfire season, we use helicopters to inspect parts of the grid for any potential bushfire hazards.

“We also visit properties in bushfire-prone areas and check for hazards from trees or vegetation growing too close to private overhead powerlines and defects on private mains.

“Doing these inspections in the cooler months allows plenty of time to identify potential hazards and have them repaired before bushfire season begins.”

Between April and July 2019 two helicopters patrolled more than 8600km of overhead powerlines in bushfire risk areas.

The crews used laser scanning equipment and high-resolution photographs to identify hazards on poles or wires and trees growing too close to powerlines.

Ausgrid crews trimmed thousands of branches growing too close to powerlines which could have started a bushfire.

Over the winter months Ausgrid crews also carried out ground inspections checking for vegetation growing too close to private overhead powerlines and defects on private powerlines.

There are tens of thousands of privately-owned power poles located in bushfire zones within the Ausgrid network, and those property owners and occupiers are responsible for their safe maintenance and operation.

“Private poles and powerlines which aren’t safely maintained by property owners can become a serious bushfire risk and these inspections help reduce the risk of a fire starting,” Mr Armstrong said.

“If our inspectors find any bushfire hazards they will notify the property owner or occupier of any work required to make their poles and powerlines safe.”

Ausgrid’s network covers an area of more than 22,000km2 covering parts of Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter, from Waterfall in the South, west to Auburn and just north of Scone.