The recent extreme weather conditions in New South Wales have prompted Essential Energy to undertake a range of strategies to minimise customer impact in the event of power supply interruptions.
Essential Energy’s regional teams will continue to assess planned outages on a case-by-case basis to determine if these should proceed. However, any urgent faults identified during this period can require emergency outages to enable power to be restored safely and as quickly as possible.
As an overhead network spanning regional, rural and remote NSW, the network is constantly exposed to wildlife, weather, vegetation, motor vehicle, aircraft and other impacts resulting in unplanned outages.
Despite best practice planned maintenance programs, no energy provider can guarantee customers an uninterrupted power supply as unplanned repairs and maintenance in response to these events are inevitable.
Unlike short, linked city networks, which provide the flexibility to transfer customers to an alternative power supply during periods of planned maintenance or repairs, overhead electricity networks in rural areas generally comprise longer radial lines, without alternative supply.
Effective management of the network and co-ordinated responses to unplanned outages have seen reliability of power supply to Essential Energy customers continue to improve, with today’s performance approximately 20 per cent better than ten years ago.
Comparing 2017 and 2018, the average total minutes customers were without power for the year improved by ten per cent, from 236 minutes in 2017 to 212 minutes in 2018.
Power supply interruptions on Essential Energy’s network range from single customer outages, faults on the low voltage network which can affect up to 200 customers, faults on the 11,000 and 22,000-volt networks, which could affect between 100 and 2500 customers, and larger faults on the subtransmission network which can interrupt the power supply to 3000 or more.
Lauren Butler is the assistant editor for Utility Magazine. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia.