AusNet considers Network Outage Review Panel Interim Report

4 July 2024

AusNet will consider an interim report by the Victorian Government’s Network Outage Review Expert Panel, which has been investigating the large-scale electricity outages which occurred following storms in February this year.

AusNet Executive General Manager Network Operations, Andrew Linnie, said AusNet will review the interim report over the coming weeks.

“We welcome the collaborative approach and will continue to work with the Victorian government and the Network Outage Review panel members to support the goal of improving outcomes for customers and communities,” he said.

The Network Outage Review Panel’s Interim Report found that the unprecedented storm event in February stretched many aspects of AusNet’s response and identified ways in which utilities can improve how they respondto future events.

Mr Linnie said AusNet has already implemented several initiatives which will benefit communities impacted by future large-scale outages and committed to implementing further changes to improve its response to future incidents.

“Shortly after the storms we launched a $12 million Energy Resilience Community Fund. In the short term, the Fund helped communities recovering from the storms. In the longer, term we’ll work with local governments and the community to help them become more energy resilient, so they are better prepared to withstand future weather events,” said Mr Linnie.

AusNet has also invested in four Emergency Management Mobile Assistance vehicles (EMMAs), which will be deployed to communities impacted by future large scale unplanned outages. These vehicles will provide access to charging facilities and internet, which communities impacted by the recent storms have said is really important to them.

Also, AusNet said it had improved the capacity of its Outage Tracker to ensure it has capacity during periods of very high demand.

Release of the Panel report coincides with the release of recommendations from AusNet’s own independent review into the operational processes and systems prior to and during the storm event the storm response, undertaken by the NOUS Group.

“We are now putting in place plans to implement the recommendations from that review,” said Mr Linnie.

“We are also continuing to consult with customers and other stakeholders on our longer-term plans to strike a balance between reducing the impact of extreme events and energy costs,” he said.

Mr Linnie acknowledged that the catastrophic storms caused extensive damage to the network and had a significant impact on AusNet customers.

“Over 365,000 homes and businesses across Victoria were impacted, interrupting power to around 45% of AusNet customers. There was significant damage to power poles, transformers and other infrastructure, with 12,000 kilometres of AusNet’s distribution network needing to be surveyed and repaired, over a quarter of our distribution network,” he said.