19 June 2020

Power outages affecting North Gungahlin - ActewAGL apology

| My Gungahlin
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Over the last couple of weeks parts of suburbs in Gungahlin’s north have been affected by unplanned power outages. The suburbs that have been affected have been Bonner, Moncrieff, Jacka, Ngunnawal and Amaroo.

The first power outage occurred just before 8:30pm on Monday the 8th May. The outage was resolved before midnight that same night. We were advised by a ActewAGL spokesperson that the outage was due to an underground fault. They advised that these faults take longer to identify and isolate.

One week later on Monday the 15th May at just after 6:30pm there was another outage affecting the same areas as the week prior. The following day a ActewAGL spokesperson advised it was a different cable fault to the one the week prior.

On Wednesday the 17th May ActewAGL advised they were required to undertake urgent planned maintenance in Ngunnawal that required an outage for approximately 2 hours from 10pm. We have been advised this was required due to damage caused by a third party.

On Monday this week people in Gungahlin held their breath hoping for a power outage free Monday night which was the case. However, on Wednesday just before 6:20pm there was another outage affecting the same area as the weeks prior. This power outage was resolved about 2 hours later.

The unfortunate thing is the timing of these outages. It’s cold at night, people are getting home from work, getting dinner ready and bathing kids. Some people have reported having to throw out meals being prepared and buy take-away from stores not affected by the power outage. We have seen some comments of people unable to access their homes as their electric garage doors won’t open.

Today we reached out to ActewAGL and offered to conduct a video interview to try and get some information for those that have been affected by these outages. We were provided with the following response.

“ActewAGL is investigating the cause of recent outages across the electricity network in North Canberra, which also caused sporadic blackouts last night.

We appreciate how inconvenient and frustrating it is not to have power, and the priority for crews last night was working as quickly and safely as possible to isolate the problem area on the network and get power restored. We’ve got crews continuing to investigate the exact location and identify the nature of the fault today. ”

Later this afternoon ActewAGL came back with further information and apology.

“We again apologise for the frustration and inconvenience of the recent blackouts. Last night’s outages, which occurred over a two-hour period from 6.30 to 8.30 affected around 2,300 customers across Bonner, Gungahlin, Amaroo, Forde and Jacka.

They were caused by a “protection setting” tripping, which is a safety mechanism to ensure the safety of the network and the community. Our focus last night was to work as quickly and safely as possible to get the power back on for customers. We are still investigating the exact cause of why this safety protection setting tripped.

A large proportion of these customers also experienced outages on 8 and 15 May. We also had to switch the power off to conduct urgent repairs on May 17 when cable damage was caused by a third party.

Unfortunately when dealing with the underground network the process of isolating and repairing faults takes more time than with overhead poles and wires. Also, the intermittency experienced by households was due to the need to isolate faults by switching sections of the network on and off to test supply.

In the broader context, there is significant development underway in Canberra’s North, including the NBN and infrastructure for new suburbs. The electricity network is being impacted in various ways, including our work to realign the grid to cater for the ongoing growth in the area.”

We will continue to follow up with ActewAGL on this and provide more information as it comes to hand.

This is also a timely reminder to use the free Dial Before You Dig service to be aware of important utility assets on and around their properties. As mentioned above one outage was required due to damage to a cable due to a third party.

ActewAGL Branch Manager Works Delivery Clinton McAlister said when it comes to electricity and gas services, what’s outside your house matters.

“If you’re planning on doing any building or digging, you should be contacting Dial Before You Dig by calling 1100, before you start.

“Dial Before You Dig will let you know where underground pipes and cables are on your block.

“Damaging gas pipes or electricity cables can not only be dangerous, but expensive and cause service disruptions to you and your neighbours.

“It’s also important that above ground assets like mini pillars are 1.5 metres clear from things like rubbish, bins and plants.

“This helps our crews respond quickly to network issues, so we can continue to provide our community with reliable services.”

For more information visit ActewAGL’s website actewagl.com.au/safety or go to Dial Before You Dig’s website 1100.com.au

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