Extreme weather events this winter have led to calls for communities in Western Victoria and the surrounding region to be well prepared for the risk of power outages.
In the first half of winter 2019 (June 1 – July 23), 191 severe weather warnings have been issued, resulting in power outages for communities across Victoria.
Electricity distribution company Powercor warns that while most people associate the summer season with these events, June and July have proven they can happen at any time. The main difference is in the impact it can have on managing the cold in winter.
Powercor’s head of network control and operations George Aspros recommended people be prepared to be resilient to the risk of power outages at any time.
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“Powercor is one of the country’s most reliable electricity distribution companies but we cannot control the weather,” Mr Aspros said.
“As an example, on June 29, we saw whole trees being carried by strong winds more than 100 metres into powerlines near Shepparton and this resulted in outages for customers in the region.
“While we have about 1000 people in crews located in 14 depots around western Victoria who respond quickly to these events and in all conditions, we encourage customers to be prepared for a loss of electricity.”
In the event of extreme weather alerts, customers who lose power will recover better if they have:
- Charged their phones and laptop computers to ensure they can still communicate with friends and family and get information about service updates
- Withdrawn some cash to pay for food or other supplies given that ATMs and EFTPOS can be affected by electricity outages
- Backed up their computer files and records to a storage device or a secure location to assist with business continuity
- Checked that any available alternative energy sources like electricity generators, are fuelled and operational
- Make sure barbeque gas cylinders are full for cooking or boiling water
- In any conditions, be aware and stay well clear of any fallen powerlines. Report them immediately to Powercor on 13 24 12.
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Mr Aspros said that importantly, anyone relying on life support or medical assistance in case of a power outage should also ensure they have contingency plans in place.
“We ask any customers reliant on electricity to power life support medical equipment to contact us to make sure we can advise them directly about risks to electricity supplies,” he said.
Powercor is Australia’s most reliable rural network, with power available for more than 99.97 per cent of the year, equating to customers on average being without power for about 2.5 hours a year.