Victorians to receive compensation for power blackouts

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Victorians are expected to receive a record compensation payment after a network failure in January left thousands of homes without power.

Under the National Energy Rules, electricity distributors are required to compensate customers for an extended loss of power due to a technical fault on their part. Customers who lost power for between three and 20 hours will receive an $80 payment, while those who lost power for 20 hours or more will receive up to $180.

A total of $5 million has been set aside by the power companies to compensate Victorians, which Premier Daniel Andrews described as “unprecedented”.

Compensation payments are currently being rolled out, with all payments expected to be finalised by the end of February 2018. Customers impacted by the blackout should have received a letter or email from their local distributor detailing the compensation process. Anyone affected by the January blackout who has not yet received any correspondence from their distributor should get in touch with the company to discuss the matter.

What caused the power outage?

The Victoria blackout in January was blamed on the extreme weather conditions at the time. Extreme heat and humidity is said to have caused critical network infrastructure to fail. This subsequently led to some households across all distribution networks in Victoria experiencing a loss of power.

Not all blackouts lead to compensation payments though – only those where fault is attributable to the distributor. For example, a storm knocking down power lines is generally considered to be out of the distributor’s control, so customers won’t receive compensation as long as power is restored as quickly as possible. The extreme heat and high demand on January 28 reportedly led to substation fuse faults, leaving some customers without power for as long as 24 hours.

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