Powercor helps Victorians prepare for high-risk season

Lightning storm over Melbourne CBD (powercor)
Image: Shutterstock

This spring, electricity distributor Powercor and the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) are urging Victorians to prepare for a high-risk spring season ahead, with the increased potential of storms, floods and power outages.

Victoria’s emergency management agencies last week declared spring to be a “higher risk weather season”, with predictions of wetter than average conditions from September through to November.

With the memories of last June and October’s storms still fresh in the minds of many Victorians, households and communities are being urged to prepare for the impacts of severe weather, from the potential of storms, damaging winds and heavy rain to power outages and flooded roads.

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As well as this, the Bureau of Meteorology has moved the ENSO Outlook to La Nina Alert, meaning the chance of La Nina forming in the coming months has increased to about 70 per cent.

VICSES chief officer operations Tim Wiebusch urged residents to be flood and storm ready.

“VICSES volunteers are highly trained and will be ready and prepared to respond to requests for assistance to flood and storm events as required, however, we are asking communities to also prepare. Make sure you stay informed, and listen to the advice of emergency services as warnings are issued,” he said.

“We’re also asking communities to have a plan in place. Start conversations with your family and household to discuss your options in the event of a storm or severe weather event or storm.

“If you have not yet done so, now is a good time to develop your personalised storm and flood emergency plan for your home and property. Especially in the instance of a power outage, ensure to have a backup battery operated radio and flashlight as part of your emergency kit,” Wiebusch said.

Powercor’s Richard Scholten said while field crews worked year-round conducting critical maintenance, inspections and vegetation clearing to keep the network as safe and reliable as possible, customers also had an important role to play.

“Spring brings more frequent thunderstorms and those conditions, particularly the wind and lighting, can damage poles and wires and cause power outages,” Scholten said.

“When these events occur, we work closely with VICSES and other emergency response agencies to respond as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power for our customers.

“For example, when large trees fall over roads and block access, VICSES will remove them, supporting us to get to fault locations safely and quickly.

“Given the forecasts, we’re asking customers to be as prepared as possible for power outages in case they do occur, because as we saw last Spring, the impacts can be significant.”

Powercor has also launched its new Mobile Emergency Response Vehicle (MERV) which will be used to support local communities during emergencies and prolonged power outages.

The vehicle will provide a central hub for Powercor to provide localised updates, and has on board a generator, flood lighting and phone charging facilities for residents.

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“We built this vehicle after last year’s major storms caused widespread and extensive damage to power infrastructure.

“MERV is about providing a central hub for residents to meet with Powercor representatives and get first-hand information about what’s happening in their areas during major storm events.

“Since last year’s storms we’ve also improved our customers communications, including our estimated restoration times, and we’ve continued to work with telcos and emergency agencies to improve our preparation and response to major events.

“Customers can also now visit our website and choose how they receive updates about outages in a way that works for them.”

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