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Seven days on and power restoration in full swing

Published: 4 Apr 2017 10:58am

Seven days after Tropical Cyclone Debbie severely damaged The Whitsundays, Ergon Energy has outlined the massive logistical operation that is going into restoring power to impacted customers and communities.

Energy Queensland Chief Executive Officer David Smales revealed today huge amounts of raw materials had so far been obtained to substantially restore Mackay, with an ongoing military-style operation still being required to help smaller communities with power restoration in Moranbah, Collinsville and The Whitsundays.

“Seven days ago we had around 65,000 customers in the impacted area without power. We’ve restored power to 45,000 customers or 70% of those with fewer than 20,000 left to restore and significant restoration work still underway,” he said.

“We’re continually pushing hard aiming to have 80% of customers restored by Friday 7 April and all remaining customers restored – where it is safe to do so – in time for Easter by Good Friday 14 April.”

New South Wales’ Essential Energy are supporting restoration efforts by sending 100 field staff and trucks to assist the 800 Ergon and Energex staff as well as contractors in the field who are repairing the network and restoring power with additional behind the scenes staff providing essential support.

“Repairing our network and restoring power is soaking up enormous amounts of resources,” he said.

“To give an idea of the scale of damage to our network, Ergon has in transit or used more than 200km of cable, almost 200 power poles, 450 cross arms, 10,000 fuses and 1000 insulators. And we know there will be more to come."

Semi-trailers loaded with supplies have come from Ergon stores at Toowoomba, Cairns and even Wide Bay into Townsville and Mackay dispersing materials from both fronts. A central logistics hub has been established at Proserpine.

“Our suppliers have responded amazingly well and we have continued to fully utilise stocks of summer storm season spares,” he said.

Customers in the impacted communities have shown overwhelming levels of patience, appreciation and understanding to our crews and the difficulties they face in restoring power.

“It’s greatly appreciated by our staff. While we have managed to restore power to about 70% of impacted customers, the job is far from over and we’re working as fast as we can to bring the communities of The Whitsundays, where major repairs are needed, back to normal,” Mr Smales said.

“It’s a mammoth logistical operation with accommodation for crews proving to be one of the biggest challenges. We are securing as much local accommodation as possible to house the massive workforce and to ensure money stays in the local economy where it’s most needed”

As with all natural disasters Ergon Energy will review its performance.

“There are always lessons to be learned from these events. If Ergon can improve its planning and response, then not only do our customers and communities benefit but our response staff do too.”

“As the campaign matures into next week our crews will be everywhere in The Whitsundays - they will just about light up the streets with their high visibility work wear.”

With so many workers expected to be in the region Ergon Energy has appealed to motorists to slow down when passing crews on the roads.

Media Contact: John Fowler
Phone: 0417 283 713