Being prepared for summer’s extreme weather is everyone’s role

1 December, 2022

Think about how many internet-enabled gadgets you rely on each day – would you know what to do if they suddenly stopped working?

With research suggesting households now use an average of 20 devices reliant on power and the internet, electricity distributor, Powercor is encouraging customers to think about what to do if extreme weather affects power supplies this summer.

Head of Customer Experience, Adam Nason, said that over recent months many Victorians had already experienced first-hand the consequences of extreme weather, from rising flood waters impacting critical power infrastructure, to strong winds bringing down massive trees over powerlines.

“While extreme events can happen at any time of the year, it’s more likely in summer when storms, lightning, high winds and heat can lead to power outages,” Mr Nason said.

“Power outages affect everyone differently. Cars being trapped in garages with an electric door is a common challenge we hear. Phones running out of charge and frustrations with trying to keep the family entertained without devices is another.

“We know it can be incredibly inconvenient, so we encourage everyone to make preparing for power outages part of your emergency plan.”

Powercor works year-round inspecting and maintaining the electricity network to keep it reliable. This includes inspecting more than 160,000 power poles and using helicopter-based LiDAR to inspect vegetation across our full networks.

“We are designing a resilient network so we can minimise the inconvenience of power outages in extreme conditions,” Mr Nason said.

“When a power outage occurs, we respond quickly to restore power and we keep our customers updated so they have the information they need to make decisions to support themselves and their families.

“In particular, we have extra resources and strike teams on call during the busy Christmas, New Year and Australia Day periods.”

Throughout the year, Powercor has been speaking with local communities to listen and understand what they need during major emergency events.

“We have incorporated some of their feedback as well as some of the lessons learnt during recent major events to improve how we update communities during emergencies.” Mr Nason said.

“This includes improving our estimated restoration times and developing and deploying our first Mobile Engagement and Response Vehicle (MERV) that is equipped to support communities impacted by extended outages. During the recent flooding events, we used MERV at relief centres to assist residents who had evacuated from their homes.”

Over the past 12 months, Powercor has also upgraded parts of the network in high growth-areas, such as Melton and in Geelong and the Surf Coast and conducted additional patrols along powerlines in the Central Highlands impacted by storms over the past year.

This summer, specialised bushfire mitigation safety devices, known as Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters, will be operating in 21 locations across the Powercor network, covering about 17,800 kilometres and supporting almost 300,000 customers.

“Our safety devices are operated on more sensitive settings during summer and on Total Fire Ban Days to minimise fire starts and keep communities safer,” Mr Nason said.

“Outages on these days may take longer to restore, as our crews are required to patrol the lines after each fault.”

Simple steps customers can take to prepare for power outages include:

  • Look after your health – particularly if you rely on life support equipment and need a back-up plan
    • Stay connected – by having mobile phones and laptop computers charged to stay connected with family and friends
    • Have back-up energy ready – like batteries, lamps and barbeques and have your eskies ready
    • Stay up to date – visit our website to choose your preferences for getting notifications from Powercor about power supplies