February 7, 2013  |  Members Statements

Musk: electricity infrastructure maintenance schedules

On 17 January this year  a day of total fire ban was declared across much of the state, including all of my  electorate. That day was also the day that Powercor undertook maintenance on the power infrastructure in the  Musk area near Daylesford.  This required a  5-hour  planned electricity outage affecting around 400 homes, all of which are situated  around  the Wombat Forest  in  an  area  designated  as  a high bushfire risk area. Residents  were advised of Powercor’s plans in advance, and  a  number of those residents shared their concerns  about it both with staff  at Powercor and with  me. The staff at Powercor advised that while they recognised that this  area was  in a  region of high fire risk, it was necessary under Powercor’s statutory responsibilities and scheduling to undertake the work at that time. I have  twice written  to the  Minister for Energy and Resources on this matter, both before and since  the event, asking him  to act in support of  residents of high  fire risk  communities to  utilise his  powers to require a review of this policy  with  a  view  to  prioritising  high fire risk areas for inspection and maintenance well ahead of rather than during the bushfire season.

While a sound  maintenance schedule is accepted as very desirable, the residents of  the Musk  area, who  experienced a  serious fire  only four  years ago, have clearly indicated to me that this planned outage added to their anxiety on a day of total fire ban, and they  question why it could not  have been done at a more appropriate time.