Households and businesses are being reminded to prepare for the possibility of power outages in extreme conditions this summer, with the coming season forecast to be one of the hottest in years.
Summer traditionally sees higher demand for electricity and brings with it a greater chance of extreme weather events, such as strong winds, lightning and heat, which can lead to localised power outages.
After completing one of its largest vegetation and maintenance programs to get the network ready for bushfire season, electricity distributor Powercor is urging everyone to include preparing for power outages as part of their emergency plan.
Powercor Head of Network Control, Peter Galey said it was critical everyone had a plan for what they would do if extreme conditions affected their power supplies.
“Our control room is our eyes and ears, providing us real-time insight into what’s happening on the network so we can act and respond safely and quickly if the power does go out,” Mr Galey said.
“We are also asking everyone to act too by preparing for power outages as part of their emergency plan.”
“Our Be Safe, Be Smart, Be Ready campaign offers important advice to people about what they can do to get ready for extreme weather conditions, as well as how to respond and safely reconnect if the power does go out.”
Powercor works year-round to make sure the network is prepared for the extreme summer months.
Activities this year included:
- Conducting compliance testing on its Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL) that are located in 22 high bushfire risk areas. This year will be the first time all devices will be in service and will protect more than 17,800km of powerlines covering about 290,000 homes and businesses.
- Completed a full network vegetation inspection – LiDAR technology mounted on helicopters is used to inspect 80,000km of overhead powerlines. This provides our teams with accurate data on which trees need to be cut back from powerlines. Our full year inspection program were completed ahead of time in July, with additional pre-summer inspections completed in September in our highest risk areas
- Increased vegetation management cutting crew resources by 30%. We have cut more than 360,000 trees away from powerlines in hazardous bushfire areas.
- Conducted upgrades on major backbone powerlines including at Cobram East, Drysdale, Echuca and Geelong City, as well as at 175 distribution substations and low voltage sites across CitiPower and Powercor networks.
- Inspected more than 193,605 poles and are on track to completing more than 240,000 pole inspections by the end of the year. We’ve also replaced or reinforced 6,360 power poles and are on track to exceed our annual target.
“We have also invested in building two emergency response vehicles that we will use to respond and support communities if they are impacted by extended outages this summer,” Mr Galey said.
“These vehicles are equipped with onboard generators and have phone, tablet and laptop charging capabilities and can also create a satellite internet Wi-Fi hotspot, so communities can connect with loved ones in a prolonged outage.”
If power is affected, customers will be updated via SMS, our outage map at www.powercor.com.au or through our Bendigo-based customer centre. Customers are encouraged to sign up to outage alerts at www.powercor.com.au/notify
Advice on how customers can prepare for power outages
- Have a back-up plan ready if you rely on life support equipment or need electrical items to care for babies, the disabled, elderly or pets.
- Plan to keep food safe. Set your fridge to 5 degrees (5°C) or below. An unopened fridge will keep food for about four hours.
- Have plenty of drinking water available if your supply relies on power.
- Sign up for SMS notifications about power supplies and choose your preferences for who you want to receive them here
- Download the VicEmergency app and keep emergency phone numbers handy.
- Know how to connect computers and tablets to your mobile phone’s hotspot.
- Back-up computer files.
- Charge mobile phones, laptops and portable back-up batteries.
- If you have a rooftop solar system or a battery, check that it is able to operate in a power outage.
- If you plan to use a diesel generator, make sure it’s fully fuelled, operational and that you know how to safely operate it.
- Have a battery-powered radio available for real time news updates.
- Keep battery-powered lamps or torches handy.