Posted on 18. Jan, 2012 in Victoria

Victorians are still unaware whether their electricity could be turned off for extended periods of time during high fire danger periods despite a new document revealing the Baillieu Government knows what areas will be impacted under its scheme.

From Monday, 23 January this year, power distribution companies will be required to disable the auto-reclose function on SWER lines during Code Red and total fire ban days, which may leave businesses and homes without electricity. However on a large number of SWER lines the auto-reclose system will be disabled for six weeks.

The Baillieu Government has failed to announce which communities the changes could cover, Shadow Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said today.

Visiting the Hennel family farm in Humedale with Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green, Ms D’Ambrosio said a directive sent to power distribution companies from Energy Safe Victoria stated there was recent modelling that showed which areas would be impacted if power was turned off.

“These changes will impact thousands of families and business owners, but the Baillieu Government is yet to reveal exactly who will be impacted,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Cutting power to farms, vineyards and other small businesses could have serious financial consequences unless the owners have been properly informed and made arrangements.

“These changes to the auto-reclose systems begin in just days so it’s not good enough that the Baillieu Government has kept Victorians in the dark.

“The Baillieu Government knows that 10,000 homes will be impacted by these changes, so why isn’t the Premier informing Victorians?”

The directive references ‘thePhoenixfire consequence model’ that outlines the areas of the state that will be affected when the auto-reclose function is turned off.

The changes are in response to the Bushfire Royal Commission’s Recommendation 32, and will mean that on days of high-fire danger the power could be cut, and only turned back on after a manual inspection, which could be days later.

While the Baillieu Government have announced $40 million to help Victorians deal with power disruptions, it’s yet to outline how this will be spent.

“These changes are too important not to get right, and the Baillieu Government’s mishandling of the issue is already threatening to negatively impact Victorians,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Ms Green said the Hennel family, like many locals without town water, would be in great difficulty if power was cut for one day, let alone several days.

“The Hennel family haven’t heard about the Government’s plans to implement these changes next week, and like so many other people they aren’t prepared for long periods without electricity,” she said.

“People understand sacrifices need to be made to prepare their community for a fire, but the least the Baillieu Government could do is inform the families and businesses that will be impacted by these changes.”

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