Power cuts on the rise

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

Unplanned power outages in Albany have continued to rise in the past three years with 533 recorded last financial year, as Western Power upgrades networks across the region.

The City of Albany recorded 850 power outages in the 2016-17 financial year, with 533 unplanned and 317 planned.

That figure was up on the 2015-16 financial year (803 outages) and 2014-15 (618).

Planned power cuts in Albany have nearly doubled in the past three years as Western Power upgrades its Great Southern network.

The City of Albany recorded 317 planned power interruptions in the 2016-17 financial year, up from 143 power interruptions in 2014-15 and 190 in 2015-16 as work was rolled out.

However, planned power outages only accounted for 25 per cent of all power outages in Albany since 2015, with 75 per cent of those unplanned.

These unplanned outages mainly arose from environmental factors such as storms, vegetation, wildlife, debris and mechanical failures.

A spokesman for Western Power said the utility had successfully met its benchmark for the City of Albany, which was set by the Economic Regulation Authority and limited interruptions on average to about three a year per customer. Currently, the City of Albany says it averages 2.3 interruptions a year per customer.

“The City of Albany serves a much larger population than Denmark and requires a larger network maintenance program,” the spokesman said.

“Twenty five per cent of outages in the City of Albany in the past 48 months to September 2017 are attributed to planned outages. Customers were notified in advance of every outage to plan their schedules around the outages.”

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer Russ Clark said outages had cost businesses money and he hoped for better communication between Western Power and local businesses in future.

“Perhaps it could be better if they can communicate to the local business and find out if there’s any inconvenient time for them to do maintenance and planned work,” he said. “In some cases, it could be a busy long weekend and some local businesses rely on this time to make some profit.”

Albany’s planned outages in the 2014-17 periods were higher than the State’s average, which currently sits at 16 percent.

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