News

Thousands left without power

By Seymour Telegraph

A fault in an underground power line left thousands of residents without power last week.

The outage, which lasted for nearly 24 hours, affected a huge section of Strathbogie Shire with Nagambie the worst affected area.

In Nagambie alone 1253 properties were affected and another 636 properties in Avenel, 46 in Seymour and 24 in Longwood were all without power for a lengthy period of time.

An AusNet Services spokeswoman said the power went off at 8pm Wednesday, January 23, but residents reported losing power from 6pm.

The fault occurred at the point where the line goes under Hume Fwy which made it extremely difficult for AusNet Services to isolate it.

The spokeswoman said AusNet Services testers worked through the night to find the fault, and isolated it in the early hours of Thursday, January 24.

Once discovered, the crew had to dig down to confirm the location, then a repair crew was sent to the site and worked through the day to fix the fault.

The spokeswoman said the outage had nothing to do with the heat but was a case of extremely unfortunate timing.

AusNet Services hooked up a generator in Nagambie but it only supplied power to 400 properties.

While waiting for the repairs to be completed, Strathbogie Shire Council set up an airconditioned relief centre at Longwood Recreation Reserve run by the Benalla SES on the advice of the Incident Control Centre.

When approached for comment, Strathbogie Shire Mayor Amanda McClaren confirmed that no-one attended the relief centre.

About 4.30pm a post appeared on the AusNet Service Facebook page stating ‘‘The cable impacting the Nagambie and Avenel areas has been repaired and we are currently carrying out testing. We are on track to restore the power by 5pm. Being an underground cable, there can be complications but at this stage we anticipate power will be back on by 5pm. Please note, those customers in Nagambie on supply from generators, we will need to switch the power off when we start to restore full supply.’’

Residents started to report on the Avenel and Nagambie Community Facebook pages between 5.30pm and 6pm that the power had come back on.

After the initial relief of having the power back on, some residents took to Facebook to ask about compensation for the perishable food lost because of the outage.

Most were dismayed to learn that AusNet Services won’t compensate them for their losses as it’s stated on the AusNet website that ‘‘Compensation does not extend to cover consequential loss (profits, food not related to refrigerator damage)’’.

However, those affected may be entitled to a ‘Guaranteed Services Level’ payment of $120 because the outage went on for more than 20 hours and it was unplanned.

In a statement, Cr McClaren advised residents to dispose of any perishable food rather than risk food poisoning.

The shire provided skip bins in Avenel and Nagambie so that residents and businesses could get rid of any spoiled food.

Cr McClaren said the council commended ‘‘the community on their resilience and patience during what was a very trying and unforeseen set of circumstances’’.

For more details about the ‘Guaranteed Services Level’ payment visit ausnetservices.com.au/ Residential/Electricity/Service-Standards