We’re closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in the community. Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our customers, communities and our people, and providing a reliable supply of energy to you during a difficult time.
We want to keep you updated on our response to COVID-19, and will share updates with you here.
AusNet Services has emergency management plans in place to cover a range of scenarios, including pandemics, to ensure that we continue to provide essential services to you. These plans are being reviewed daily. We’re also closely monitoring consumption levels and changes in electricity demand given that customers may be self-isolating, working from home and looking after children. At this stage we don’t foresee any issues regarding capacity for our customers.
We understand this is a challenging time for many of our customers. We are thinking of the other essential services working tirelessly, especially the healthcare workers and the educators who are looking after the vulnerable and the young.
Support for customers experiencing hardship
Along with other Australian energy network businesses, AusNet Services has announced the following measures to ease the burden on gas and electricity customers in hardship as a result of COVID-19:
We will defer or rebate electricity and gas network charges for customers who have been impacted by hardship as a result of COVID-19.
For small businesses that are forced to temporarily close, electricity and gas network charges will not be applied from the start of April to the end of June 2020, if their consumption is less than a quarter of what it was in 2019.
For further details on the measures please see here
. We encourage anyone that is experiencing financial hardship during this period to contact their gas or electricity retailer.
At this stage we do not anticipate any significant impact to normal business operations, nor to timeframes for completing work and responding to enquiries. The situation remains fluid so we’ll continue to provide updates on any impacts to our services in the future.
Our Customer Service Contact Centre is fully operational Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm on 1300 360 795 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Service faults and emergencies can be reported 24-7 on 13 17 99.
Planned power outages during the COVID-19 outbreak
We have been regularly reviewing our planned works schedule and have significantly reduced planned outages during the pandemic.
Now more than ever a strong commitment to a reliable and safe electricity supply is essential. That means some planned work on our lines will need to continue. This work is critical to keeping your electricity and gas supply reliable and safe over the next three to six months and into the future.
We recognise this is inconvenient for our customers at any time, particularly given customers may be self-isolating, working from home, looking after the children and with more food in the fridge and freezer than usual.
We are doing everything we can to minimise the impact of planned outages on the community and are putting in place the following measures:
- We have prioritised all work that will make supply reliable for essential services such as hospitals and medical centres, factories manufacturing medical products such as face masks and hand sanitiser, and supermarkets and other community services.
- We have deferred a large amount of work that can be done safely at a later date. This has reduced the number of planned outages by around one third.
- Where possible, for those planned works that are critical and must go ahead we will reduce the duration to under five hours.
Any outages that go ahead after Sunday 29th March have been deemed critical, and will still be going ahead unless notified otherwise. Where we do have to go ahead with a planned power outage, we will provide as much notice as possible to help customers prepare. Customers will receive written notification and if they have registered their mobile phone number with their retailer, they will receive SMS notifications.
We will continue to review as the situation changes. But for now, with a high likelihood that coronavirus will impact communities for months to come, we need to ensure the grid is operating at its best and proceed with critical planned maintenance works.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience and understanding in helping us maintain a safe and reliable network.
Preparing for power outages
For a variety of reasons, customers may find themselves spending increased time at home as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Power outages, both planned and unplanned could affect your household activities. Below are some simple tips to consider to best prepare for an outage.
Life Support Customers
Not all power interruptions are planned. Unplanned interruptions can and do occur as a result of events out of our control (such as storms and bushfires, or equipment failure). For this reason, registering as a life-support customer doesn’t guarantee you a continuous supply of power. It’s important that you have a plan in place in case your power is interrupted. Please discuss with your medical practitioner what you will do if you do not have power for your life support equipment. Click here for more information for our life support customers, including how to register.
Food safety during outages
Food safety considerations are important during power outages. Click here for more information from the Victorian Government on food safety during power outages.
Working from home
Electrical and electronic equipment – consider switching off or unplugging sensitive electrical and electronic equipment if a storm, outage or lightning strike seems possible. This may include computers and audio visual equipment.
Saving work and file back-ups - If any of your computers has an auto-save function, consider how frequently it operates. If working remotely, consider your options for file back-ups.
Battery operated torches and radios – make sure you keep them on hand to receive important information in the event of an outage
Chargers – make sure your mobile phones are fully charged and you have charge packs on hand for an outage situation.
Electric gates and doors – some systems have an override (key or lever) to allow manual operation during a power outage. Check your user manual or contact the manufacturer for instructions. Some systems have battery backup and will continue to operate for a short time.
Generators - use generators with extreme caution and only to power appliances directly. Do not connect the output to the switchboard or wiring as this can cause a safety risk for AusNet Services’ own field workers. Make sure a registered electrician undertakes any such work.
If you haven’t already, register your mobile number with your retailer to receive SMS notifications on outages and restorations.
The safety and wellbeing of our people is important to us, and keeps your electricity on and your gas flowing. Some of the steps we have taken so far and will continue to evolve to support our people across our workplaces include:
- Some office-based staff are working from home and alternative business locations where feasible
- Suspending all non-critical work related travel (international and domestic), cancelling non-essential visits to external sites and conducting external meetings via teleconferencing wherever possible
- Introducing a new category of leave for employees who need to be at home during this time and cannot work from home
- Additional hygiene measures including enhanced cleaning and sanitisation processes
COVID-19 health updates
Below are some helpful links to keep up to date with the latest announcements and health advice: