A report has confirmed that privately-owned distribution networks were responsible for the widespread outages across Victoria over the 2018 Australia Day weekend, as opposed to a lack of energy supply.

Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio, has released the Victorian Government review, which makes 15 recommendations to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

The recommendations focus on clearer and faster communications to customers and require distribution businesses to put in place low-cost, innovative solutions to manage high-demand periods.

These recommendations include that distribution networks:

  • Inform the government of their plans to address network weaknesses
  • Communicate with Department of Health and Human Services and vulnerable customers (such as those on life support equipment) about extreme weather events that might cause an outage
  • Develop a single website for Victorians providing up-to-date information before, during and after outages

Electricity distribution businesses have committed to implementing all of the review’s recommendations.

Following the January outages, the government brokered a deal with Powercor, CitiPower, United Energy, Ausnet Services and Jemena to provide a $5 million relief package to around 50,000 affected customers.

Customers off supply for between three and 20 hours received $80, while those off supply for between 20 and 30 hours received up to $180.

These one-off payments went above and beyond the Guaranteed Service Level payments, which normally only apply where customers lose supply for at least 12-18 hours, rather than three hours.

For more information on the review, visit energy.vic.gov.au.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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