AusNet invests in community response vehicles

27 June 2024

Victorian communities left without power by severe weather events will be served by four AusNet community response vehicles staffed by AusNet representatives and equipped with charging points for mobile devices and satellite internet access.

Following the catastrophic February storm events which left hundreds of thousands of customers without power, AusNet has invested in the Emergency Management Mobile Assistance vehicles (EMMAs), which will be deployed to communities impacted by future large scale unplanned outages.

AusNet Executive General Manager Network Operations, Andrew Linnie, said AusNet has listened to community feedback after the February storm event.

“We attended community engagement sessions following the storms to hear from communities about the issues that impacted them most. They told us that mobile phone charging and internet access are essential for regions impacted by long-term unplanned outages caused by severe weather events, so these will be incorporated into the vehicles,” said Mr Linnie.

“They will also have a defibrillator and first aid, with our representatives trained in their use, for the unlikely event of them being needed.”

“These vehicles will provide important relief for communities. We will be able to deploy them quickly in response to prolonged outages, and we hope they will provide important respite and essential advice on network restoration to people when they most need it.”

The vehicles will also be used in future awareness campaigns to help communities better prepare for prolonged outages.

Extreme weather events like the ones experienced in February are likely to become more frequent due to climate change. So, AusNet is working closely with local governments and communities to find help solutions that help enhance their emergency facilities and make them better equipped to deal with future extreme weather events.

“The first of the EMMAs is now operational, with the three larger vehicles due for completion by the end of the year currently being modified,” said Mr Linnie.

Vehicle deployment will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a team of senior AusNet staff involved in the incident management efforts during large-scale unplanned outages.

“When determining vehicle deployment, every incident and location is different. We’ll make assessments based on a range of factors such as the progress of the event, the estimated restoration time, and the location of relief and recovery centres, amongst other things,” Mr Linnie said.

AusNet will next week publish the results of an independent review which examined all aspects of our handling of the February storm events, including organisational systems, processes and governance.