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Keeping the Christmas lights on

Published: 23 Dec 2019 3:10pm

While many Queenslanders will take a break over the festive season, Ergon Energy will have teams working around the clock to monitor the electricity network, keep the lights on, take fault calls and respond to emergency outages.

Ergon’s disaster response team has risen to some unprecedented challenges in 2019.

As Network Operations Manager in North Queensland, Matt Rigano has steered his team through tropical cyclones, bushfires, heatwaves and a series of devastating floods, including the Townsville monsoon event.

“On a daily basis and in the face of catastrophic weather conditions, our aim is to keep everyone safe around the electricity network, keep the power on and resolve any outages as soon as practically possible.

“While everyone living in a disaster-prone area should be prepared for power interruptions in severe weather events, we can assure them we’ll be there to support them,” Mr Rigano said.

Staff at Operations Control Centres in Townsville and Rockhampton monitor the electricity network 24/7, 365 days a year to deliver a safe and reliable electricity supply.

Ergon team members on duty Christmas Day

Queensland’s electricity network is vast - 178,000 kilometres of powerlines and 1.7 million poles.  Highly sophisticated protection and control systems continually monitor the network for faults, like a lightning strike or accidental contact from a vehicle, and isolate the affected area.

“It works much like the safety switch in your home, but on a much larger scale.  We receive roughly five million alarms a year and storm season is particularly busy.

“While it helps to have remote control of the network and there are times when we can restore power quite quickly by reclosing circuit breakers, when there is damage requiring emergency repairs crews need to find faults and fix them before power can be safely restored,” Mr Rigano said.

Regional Field Manager Chris Hooper said Ergon crews appreciated the community’s patience when they were tackling big jobs to get the power back on in the heat.

“Summer definitely keeps us on our toes because of the increased risk of network damage from severe weather events, but we are well prepared and we understand how much people rely on electricity, so we’re always working to restore power as soon as we can while keeping everyone safe,” Mr Hooper said.

Around 400 staff across Queensland are on standby for emergency response on Christmas Day.

Ergon’s Customer Operations Team will be available 24/7, taking fault calls on 13 22 96.

“We encourage customers to report specific information because it can help field crews find faults faster.

“If customers are just looking for updates, they might prefer to go to Outage Finder at ergon.com.au.

“We’re all wishing for an outage-free Christmas, but we’re always here to help,” Manager Customer Operations Cloe Kernick said.

Media Contact: Emma Oliveri
Phone: 0457 566 079