What you need to know about power outages

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Picture this; you’ve just walked in the door, kicked off your boots and headed straight for the fridge after a long day at work. Before you can even relax and switch on your favourite TV show, the power goes out. Unfortunately, power outages can strike when you least expect it, leaving many households vulnerable. Yet, just because blackouts are virtually impossible to predict, it doesn’t mean you and your family can’t be prepared.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of power outages in Australia, and equip you with the knowledge on who to contact should the lights go out at your place.

What is a Power Outage?

A power outage is when the supply of electricity or gas is interrupted for a number of reasons, including:

  • Weather: Heavy rainfall, heatwaves, high winds and lightning strikes
  • Vehicles: Motor accidents damaging powerlines
  • Bushfires: Electricity supply can be cut during emergencies
  • Animals: Wildlife can interfere with energy infrastructure
  • Maintenance: Sudden drops in electricity supply can short or trip circuits

Electricity outages can also occur when overhanging branches or trees come into contact with powerlines.

How to prepare for a power outage

As the old adage goes: it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. With this in mind, you should keep the following essentials nearby:

  • Torch
  • Candles
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Batteries
  • Radio
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • Fire extinguisher or fire blanket
  • First aid kit
  • List of important contacts
  • Portable phone charger

If the power goes out, or you suspect it will for whatever reason (e.g. a severe weather warning), turn off all your appliances at the wall. You should also leave a light switch on so you’ll know when the power has been restored.

How do I find out if there are power outages in my area?

You can check for electricity outages, or the loss of gas supply, by jumping onto the website of your local energy distributor. It’s the distributor who is responsible for delivering power safely to your home or business, as well as maintaining powerlines, pipes and transmission grids in your area.

Generally, your energy distributor will have a power outage map on its website where you can input your street, suburb or postcode and receive frequent updates of any outages reported in your locality. The example below comes from Energex, the electricity distributor for south east Queensland.

Power outage guide

Not entirely sure who your energy distributor is? That’s fine. Keep reading to find your gas or electricity distribution network.

Who is my electricity or gas distributor?

For electricity or gas outages, you will need to contact your local energy distributor. Here’s a list of every distribution network’s contact details in Australia:

Who to call: Power outages Victoria?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
Melbourne City and inner suburbs CitiPower 131 280
Northern and south-western suburbs Jemena 131 626
Western suburbs and western Victoria Powercor Australia 132 412
Outer northern and eastern suburbs and eastern Victoria Ausnet Services 131 799
Southern suburbs and Mornington Peninsula United Energy Distribution 132 099

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
Nationwide Australian Gas Networks 1800 898 220
Eastern suburbs              Multinet Gas Networks 132 691
Outer northern and eastern suburbs and eastern Victoria AusNet Services 136 707

Who to call: Power outages NSW?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
Southern/western metropolitan Sydney and surrounds Endeavour Energy 131 003
Country & regional NSW and southern regional QLD Essential Energy 132 080
Inner, northern & eastern metropolitan Sydney and surrounds Ausgrid 131 388

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
Tamworth Central Ranges System 1800 676 300
Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coast, Wollongong and parts of country NSW Jemena Gas Networks NSW 131 909
Wagga Wagga Wagga Wagga Gas Distribution Network 1800 898 220

Who to call: Power outages QLD?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & surrounds Energex 136 262
Country and regional QLD Ergon Energy 132 296

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
South of the Brisbane River, South Coast, Toowoomba & Oakey Allgas Energy (gas) 1300 763 106
All of QLD Australian Gas Networks 1800 898 220

Who to call: Power outages ACT?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
Most of the ACT EvoEnergy 131 093
A small portion of the ACT and Queanbeyan area Essential Energy 132 080

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of the ACT EvoEnergy 131 093

Who to call: Power outages SA?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of SA SA Power Networks 131 366

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of SA Australian Gas Networks SA 1800 898 220

Who to call: Power outages Tasmania?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of Tasmania TasNetworks 132 004

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of Tasmania Tas Gas Networks 1802 111

Who to call: Power outages NT?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of NT Power and Water Corporation 1800 245 092

Gas

Location Gas Distributor Faults Contact Number
All of NT Australian Gas Networks 1800 898 220

Who to call: Power outages WA?

Electricity

Location Electricity Distributor Faults Contact Number
South West Interconnected System Western Power 131 351
Rural Western Australia Horizon Power 132 351

Gas customers in Western Australia should refer to the Public Utilities Office, the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA), or the Energy Ombudsman Western Australia for any energy-related queries.

How long can a power outage last?

In many cases, power outages only last for short periods of time and are usually resolved within an estimated timeframe according to your energy distribution network. This will, however, depend on whether the interruption is due to equipment faults, environmental impacts, third party contact, cable digging, or weather-related damage.

Unfortunately, Australia is no stranger to extreme weather events like bushfires, cyclones, floods and hailstorms. Our harsh climate can often impact the nation’s energy infrastructure, bringing down powerlines and damaging electricity grids – often resulting in longer durations without power. Given that no two weather events are the same, it is extremely difficult to give an exact timeframe of how long a power outage will last, but your energy distributor will generally try to keep you updated in the process.

What is a scheduled power outage?

A scheduled power outage is essentially the planned maintenance of energy infrastructure, usually carried out by the distributor. Much like a car, distribution networks, powerlines and gas pipes require constant upkeep to ensure that electricity and gas supplies run efficiently and safely to homes and businesses.

Planned energy outages will normally be listed on your distributor’s website. Depending on your distributor, the following information should be provided:

  • Outage start date and time
  • Suburbs or postcodes impacted by power interruption
  • Number of customers affected
  • Scheduled completion date and time
  • ID or job number
  • Status (i.e. scheduled, in progress or finished)

So, there you have it. Next time you’re without power, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and who to call.

Picture credits: papi8888/Shutterstock.com

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