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.