AusNet rolls out community response vehicles for outages

AusNet Community Response Vehicle with AusNet workers and community members gathered around it
Image: AusNet

Victorian communities affected by power outages caused by severe weather events will be served by four AusNet community response vehicles staffed by AusNet representatives and equipped with charging points for mobile devices and satellite internet access.

Following the catastrophic February storm events which left hundreds of thousands of customers without power, AusNet has invested in the Emergency Management Mobile Assistance vehicles (EMMAs), which will be deployed to communities impacted by future large scale unplanned outages.

Related article: AusNet extends hardship grants following storms

AusNet executive general manager network operations Andrew Linnie said AusNet had listened to community feedback after the February storm event.

“We attended community engagement sessions following the storms to hear from communities about the issues that impacted them most. They told us that mobile phone charging and internet access are essential for regions impacted by long-term unplanned outages caused by severe weather events, so these will be incorporated into the vehicles,” Linnie said.

“They will also have a defibrillator and first aid, with our representatives trained in their use, for the unlikely event of them being needed.

“These vehicles will provide important relief for communities. We will be able to deploy them quickly in response to prolonged outages, and we hope they will provide important respite and essential advice on network restoration to people when they most need it.”

The vehicles will also be used in future awareness campaigns to help communities better prepare for prolonged outages.

Extreme weather events like the ones experienced in February are likely to become more frequent due to climate change. AusNet is working closely with local governments and communities to find help solutions that help enhance their emergency facilities and make them better equipped to deal with future extreme weather events.

Related article: AusNet launches $10M Energy Resilience Community Fund

“The first of the EMMAs is now operational, with the three larger vehicles due for completion by the end of the year currently being modified,” Linnie said.

Vehicle deployment will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a team of senior AusNet staff involved in the incident management efforts during large-scale unplanned outages.

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