With the declaration of Total Fire Ban for the Northern Country tomorrow, AusNet customers in Euroa and surrounding areas are being urged to prepare for the possibility of power outages.
In these extreme weather conditions, safety is our priority. Bushfire mitigation technology – Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs) – will be on the most sensitive setting, elevating the chance of outages.
AusNet Executive General Manager, Steven Neave, said: “While this REFCL technology is vital to keep communities safe from bushfires, on Total Fire Ban days we are required to operate it on the highest sensitivity setting which also makes the network more susceptible to outages, and it can take longer to restore them.”
When the REFCL technology is triggered, it takes out the whole feeder line to protect the community from potential bushfires, rather than just a single line or a few sections.
“Before we can restore the electricity, we need to physically patrol the line to locate, identify, and if required, clear the cause of the fault, which is a time-consuming process,” he said.
AusNet acknowledges that energy reliability on the Benalla to Euroa line has recently declined, with customers experiencing an increased number of outages and for a longer duration.
“We understand this is frustrating and impactful for the community and we apologise. We are working on resolving this as a priority,” said Mr Neave. We have additional measures in place during this heightened period to help manage incidents if they occur including:
- Additional crews
- A helicopter will be stationed locally to assist with quick network patrols to find faults
- Specialist REFCL engineers will work alongside our control room operators
- Our call centre and control room have extra staff to handle enquiries.
“We encourage community members to report any faults or potential faults that they see to our team. The most common cause of faults in hot windy conditions is trees, branches or bark falling on a power line. Reporting this to AusNet may help us narrow down fault locations on this long 1,200 kilometre line so that they can be restored more quickly,” said Mr Neave.
If the power goes out, AusNet understands that up-to-date information for the community is key. The newly upgraded Outage Tracker website provides customers with information about outages and the stage they are at in their restoration. If you’re without power and it’s not showing on our Outage Tracker, report it via Report a fault or call 13 17 99.
Further information will be kept up to date our website.
Preparing for power outages
It’s important to be power prepared and know what to do before, during and after a power outage. Life support customers should have an up-to-date emergency plan with their medical practitioner and be ready to use it during an outage. Our life support priority line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 818 832.
Don’t wait for the emergency to have a plan. You should know your risk and have a plan in place for power outages, bushfires, storms and flash flooding.
Make sure you have a plan ready to go if the power goes out. The tips below will help reduce the impacts on you and your family and keep you safe.
Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Before an outage
- Make sure you have an emergency management plan know what you need to do in the event of an emergency.
- Put together an emergency kit in an easy to access place and let everyone know where it is. As a start you should have battery operated devices such as a radio to receive important information in the event of an outage and a torch. Make sure you keep spare batteries in there too.
- Check to make sure that your medical supplies are fully stocked.
- Make sure you can open your garage or fence manually so you can leave your home if the power goes out.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged. Remember, some phones only work with electricity.
- If you have an electric water pump, stock up on bottled water.
- If you have a private overhead electric line on your property, ensure its clear of vegetation. Contact a registered electrician to repair damaged poles, or a certified tree clearer to remove unwanted vegetation.
If you are a life support customer
- Ensure your management plan is up to date and you are ready to put it into action
- If you require oxygen, make sure the cylinders are filled and working.
- See if you can visit a friend, family member or hospital when the power is out.
- Ask a neighbour to check on you during the outage.
- Keep all important phone numbers handy for example your doctor, the nearest hospital, the local taxi service, and AusNet's emergency number 13 17 99.