Media Release: Do you know how to prepare for power outages this spring?

1 September, 2020

CitiPower and Powercor are urging Victorians to know how to prepare for power outages this spring, which often delivers unsettled and extreme weather conditions.

Last Thursday, more than 35,000 customers across Victoria’s south west and western suburbs lost power as ferocious winds and gusts of more than 100 kilometres an hour crossed parts of the state.

With extra crews mobilised ahead of the storm front, CitiPower and Powercor crews responded quickly, restoring power to most customers within hours.

Head of Network Control James Walker said that while CitiPower and Powercor had worked all year round conducting critical maintenance and upgrade work to keep the network as safe and reliable as possible, customers also had an important role to play.

“Spring is traditionally when we see more severe wind events and storms, so we’re asking customers to be as prepared as possible for power outages in case they do occur,” Mr Walker said.

“As we saw last week, very strong wind gusts can impact the electricity network, knocking over trees and blowing other debris into powerlines and this can cause faults and outages.”

There are a few simple steps customers can take to make sure they are prepared ahead of an unlikely power outage. These include:

Look after your health
Have a contingency plan ready if you rely on life support equipment or need electrical items to care for babies, the disabled, elderly or pets.

Charge mobile phones and laptop computers
This will ensure you can still communicate with friends and family, get updates about when power will be restored or reach emergency services when needed.

Withdraw some cash
ATMs and EFTPOS can be affected by electricity outages so have some money available to pay for food or other supplies if need be.

Back up computer files
Make sure important computer-based records for your home, study or work are backed up and if necessary, saved on a storage device kept in a secure location.

Have alternative energy available
Check that any available alternative energy sources for powering water pumps and equipment or cooking, are fuelled and operational. This includes diesel generators, BBQs and battery powered lamps or torches. Make sure you know how to open garage doors and gates manually if they don’t have a battery back-up.

Stay up to date on safety
Check current warnings and updates at emergency.vic.gov.au and download the VicEmergency app. Register for Powercor SMS alerts to keep track of the situation. Put together an emergency kit with first-aid items, medications, torches, candles, matches, a portable radio and sturdy gloves, and have all emergency phone numbers handy.

Contact us about faults and emergencies
Call CitiPower 13 12 80 and Powercor 13 24 12

CitiPower and Powercor prioritise work that addresses faults and urgent maintenance which can lead to unplanned power outages. In addition, crews have continued checking, upgrading and replacing equipment and trimming trees as part of annual safety compliance, bushfire mitigation and asset maintenance programs.

Between January and July, crews based in 14 depots and servicing western Victoria and Melbourne customers, performed 1.2 million work hours which is 15% greater than the 1 million work hours performed in the same period last year.

At the same time, a high level reliability has been sustained with electricity supplies available 99.99% of the time in CitiPower and 99.97% of the time in Powercor.

“We have been conducting critical maintenance and upgrade work throughout this year, including during the COVID period,” Mr Walker said.

“While we appreciate that some customers have experienced planned outages during these times to allow our crews to safely conduct this work, it has meant our network is ready for the warmer and more unsettled weather period ahead.”

The work programs delivered a 17% increase in capital investment from $304 million in the same period in 2019 to $357 million, and included replacing infrastructure such as poles and powerlines, undertaking 14,939 new customer connections and upgrading street lighting to low emissions and low cost LED.

Vegetation has been cut from 50,883 spans including 31,700 spans in hazardous bushfire risk areas.

For more information on how to respond and recovery from power outages, visit powercor.com.au/lineylessons