Power quality

We fully understand the importance of power quality to the performance of all types of business – particularly as technology developed for equipment and machinery becomes more sophisticated and sensitive.

Feedback received from our commercial and industrial customers has emphasised the importance of the quality and stability of power supplied by our network.

As distribution businesses, we are obliged under the Electricity Distribution Code to maintain network voltage within allowable voltage ranges, to comply with applicable nominal supply low or high voltages.

How to protect your power quality

While we work continuously to sustain high reliability and network stability, circumstances may occur which result in voltage variations. Many of these are normal allowable variation within the voltage standards approved by the Essential Services Commission Victoria.

Sometimes, these variations can cause voltage swells (surges) and sags (brown outs) which affect your supply experience.

There are reasonable precautions businesses can take to protect their plant and equipment from such voltage variations to harden electrical installations to better ride through these events.

A risk assessment will help you establish the type of protection required taking into consideration the size and nature of your business.

We also recommend you speak to your Registered Electrical Contractor (REC) or in the case of data back up and Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS), contact a specialist IT service provider.

The following table can be used as a guideline outlining some of the options you may wish to consider for your business:

Type of protection How it works Notes
Surge protector A device which automatically switches off the power when the voltage rises above a certain level. These are available as devices which plug into the wall to protect certain appliances or they can be installed at the switchboard to protect appliances on a particular circuit or installation. You will need to contact an electrician for advice on the best solution for your business.
Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) A UPS is an appliance which allows a continuous supply of power for a limited period of time so that an appliance can be shut down correctly. It is not suitable for keeping appliances on supply. This may be of use to businesses heavily reliant on equipment sensitive to voltage variations such as computers. Advice should be sought from IT service providers to help you make an effective choice.
Phase fail relays Produces a similar result to surge protection in that the device automatically shuts down power when the voltage falls below a set limit. May be a good option for businesses that operate motorised equipment. This device is installed at the switchboard to stop motors from burning out during voltage variations. You will need to contact an electrician for advice on the best solution for your business.
Back up of data Copying computer data to a secure site. Depending on the sensitivity of the data, it should be backed up as regularly as possible. Many businesses back up their data on a daily basis.
Back up supply/generator An appliance which allows a continuous supply of power as an alternative power source. The size of generators and how they are powered varies. If you choose to use a generator, you would require a Registered Electrical Contractor to install it.
Line conditioner A device which regulates the voltage to keep it between set limits. Seek advice from your Registered Electrical Contractor.
Emergency plan Depending on the nature of your business, an emergency plan could include moving stock or using alternative premises following a voltage variation. Your plan should incorporate elements of a risk assessment. A plan could include measures to relocate stock, refrigerated transport of perishable goods or using employees to undertake other duties if production is off line.
Adequate insurance policy Your insurance may or may not cover damage from occurrences such as brown outs and surges. Also check if your policy includes ‘new for old’ coverage if it is important for your business to replace damaged goods with new products. Check with your insurance provider the best way to cover your premises and assets under these unusual circumstances.
How to lodge a claim for damages

Under certain circumstances you may be eligible to make a claim against CitiPower or Powercor for damage caused by a voltage variation or other power quality issue.

If you make a claim, you will need to outline the precautions taken to protect your assets.

We expect even small businesses to demonstrate that they have considered options or devices to provide an appropriate level of protection to minimise loss/damage during a voltage variation.

Our compensation guidelines are based on compensating customers for damaged equipment or goods that are of a similar age or functionality.

For example, if a claim was made for a five-year old computer, we would compensate the claimant for its value at the time of the incident. In view of this, you may want to check the conditions of your insurance policy for items that you may wish to replace with more up to date or advanced products.

For more details, see our Claims pages: CitiPower or Powercor.

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