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The impact of Mid West and Wheatbelt storms and our response

The impact of the recent storms in the Mid West and Wheatbelt regions has been one of the most logistically challenging repair and restoration efforts in recent years.

This highly unusual storm activity caused small pockets of damage spread across a wide geographical area, causing power outages for around 7,000 customers. This was on top of another sudden and violent thunderstorm which hit the Perth CBD and affecting another 21,000 homes and businesses, adding further pressure to network operations and metropolitan emergency teams to reconnect customers.

 “These unplanned outages were caused by the strength and extended duration of rain and storm activity in the Mid West and Wheatbelt, which caused scattered damage to the network,” said Shane Lehmann, Field Protection and Telecoms Manager.

As a result, we cancelled planned works and deployed additional crews from Perth metro and other regional depots to assist with restoration efforts to ensure customers could get reconnected as quickly and safely as possible.

The consistent heavy rain also created access issues - many of the damaged poles and transformers were in remote or flood affected areas and fallen trees, mud and boggy conditions made access very difficult.

“To counter this issue, we deployed helicopters to quickly assess the damage across the entire area and relay information back to the control centre” said Shane.

“Combining the visual information with our central data systems allowed us to coordinate crews to be deployed with the most impact”.

The intelligence from our network operations control centre combined with data received from our crews, both in the air and on the ground, meant we were able to mobilise crews and allocate resources as quickly as possible. In this way we were able to identify priority areas for network repair and dispatch crews accordingly.

Crews were consistently deployed to repair damaged assets which included more than 150 poles and 10 transmission lines. However, the continual storm activity caused new damage to infrastructure resulting in additional outages.

We also have high voltage emergency response generators that we can use, where practical, to provide backup power for critical infrastructure in areas where there had been an extended power outage. Although these generators cannot power entire towns, they are valuable in providing emergency backup power where needed, such as in Wongan Hills where two generators were provided while transmission lines to the town were being repaired.

Repairing key transmission lines meant that we could restore power to town centres as a priority so hospitals, fuel stations, shops and other critical infrastructure were reconnected as quickly as possible.

We appreciate the patience and understanding from all of our customers affected by this highly unusual weather event just know that we will always go the extra mile to get you reconnected as quickly and safely as possible. Our people are part of the community and know the value of having continuous access to reliable power.

See our FAQs for more info on power outages and how we prioritise power restoration.

Want to know more about the smarts behind our network? Find out here.