Essential Energy crews are now starting to move back into bushfire impacted areas of northern NSW to continue network restoration efforts.
More than 250 Essential Energy personnel are on the ground, working closely with the RFS and once given the all-clear, will be restoring power to around 5200 customers currently experiencing power outages in communities including Taree, Kempsey, Tamworth, Grafton and Forster.
Aerial patrols have indicated significant damage to the network, with more than 440 poles and associated electrical equipment destroyed by the fires in northern NSW. This initial number is likely to increase as ground, drone and helicopter patrols on the network are completed over coming days.
Ongoing fire activity and dangerous firegrounds continue to restrict access to assess other parts of the network, and Essential Energy is cautioning the possibility of further outages if fires continue to take hold. A state of emergency and total fire ban is still in place.
At 10am there are 56 bush and grass fires burning across the state, with 24 still to be contained. Eight fires remain at Watch and Act. After a challenging few days, there are still more than 800 firefighters in the field working on containing these fires. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/vrspOcRXiH— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 13, 2019
Essential Energy acting general manager customer & network services Brendon Neyland said, “Looking after the safety of the local community and our people is always our priority”.
Related article: Essential Energy working to restore power across fire-ravaged areas
“As this response continues, we’re ensuring our local crews are supported with additional Essential Energy personnel coming from other areas across NSW,” Mr Neyland said.
Electricity has been restored to multiple homes and businesses since the bushfire crisis escalated last week.
Essential Energy is continuing to coordinate responses with the Rural Fire Service and other agencies, locating key personnel in their Emergency Operational Centres to ensure an effective response.
“We want to thank the community for all their support, but also for their understanding and patience. The reality is that we’re still working with many unknown factors – we don’t know when we’ll be able to safely access the network again – but we do know that we’re working as hard as possible to get the power back on,” Mr Neyland said.
As the public are returning to their properties, Essential Energy wants to remind everyone to stay at least eight metres away from fallen powerlines and report them on 13 20 80.
The Essential Energy website will have information about outages, however, due to the uncertainty as to when we can access the sites, in many cases estimated times to restore will not be available.