POWER DISRUPTION: Power concerns on fire-ban day

CUT OFF: Barongarook resident Allen Biggins is disappointed with Powercor turning power off in the region on a total fire ban day.

CUT OFF: Barongarook resident Allen Biggins is disappointed with Powercor turning power off in the region on a total fire ban day.

A Colac district resident says Powercor should have cancelled yesterday’s planned power outage in the Otways because it was a total fire ban day.

Barongarook resident Allen Biggins said Powercor notified residents in the Gellibrad, Beech Forest, Kawarren and Barongarook area that there would be a power outage in the region yesterday about two weeks ago.

But Mr Biggins said he expected the electricity provider to cancel the outage after learning authorities had declared a total fire ban, with temperatures reaching the high 30s in Colac district yesterday.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful and I couldn’t believe they would proceed with it,” Mr Biggins said.

“If it’s windy or something that disrupts them they would call it off as quick as a flash, they don’t seem to care,’ he said.

Mr Biggins said he was concerned for his elderly neighbours who would be without air conditioning and cooking appliances.

He said he had a wireless radio to remain informed about fire activity, but believed a lot of people would use the television and they could struggle to remain informed.

Mr Biggins said the area wasn’t on town water and he usually used a generator to keep water on during power outages, but he was unsure if he could use it during a fire ban.

He said he also was mindful of wasting the generator’s energy.

Mr Biggins said he had contacted the Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Amrosio to complain about the decision.

He said he believed the State Government should look into implementing new legislation banning power outages on a total fire ban day.

“I think it needs to brought to the attention of people and stopped from happening again,” Mr Biggins said.

“I intend to follow it through, to put in legislation banning power outages on a total fire ban day,” he said.

“If the power goes off because of a fault then that’s fine because they can’t help that; it would be sort of similar to doing a planned burn on total fire ban day.

Powercor spokeswoman Avi Tan said the outage was planned “several months in advance” and would affect 626 customers at Gellibrand and Barongarook between 8.30am and 3.30pm.

Ms Tan said the workers were performing “priority maintenance” on poles and cross arms which was “vital to the safety of the network” and should minimise unplanned outages in the future.

“While every effort is made to undertake these outages during times which will least inconvenience our customers, it is not always possible,” Ms Tan said.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and have put on extra crew for this job taking place on a TFB day.”

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