Nearly 4000 homes are still without power days after sweeping blackouts hit Perth during a record-breaking festive heatwave, triggering fury among customers, some who are enduring a third day without electricity.
The blackout peaked on Monday night with 15,000 people left without electricity and on Tuesday a Western Power spokeswoman confirmed 3800 people in the metropolitan area were still without power at 8am.
There are multiple isolated pockets of customers affected, with the worst hit suburbs being: North Perth 241, Balcatta 211, Doubleview 179, Bayswater, Embleton 175, and Nollamara, Westminster 171.
On Boxing Day, when temperatures hit a sweltering 43.5C, 34,000 customers were without power and on Monday, when temperatures peaked at 41C, 11,000 customers were blacked out – leaving them unable to use fridges, air-conditioners and phone lines.
The network is fairly resilient but when you are in a heatwave scenario it stresses the equipment more than you would normally get.
The spokeswoman said some customers had been hit with multiple outages over successive days, with power restored only to drop out soon after.
Social media has been flooded with people venting their anger and threatening not to pay their power bills.
The Dawesville Community Facebook page has been inundated with locals sharing their frustration.
“Day 3: 39 weeks pregnant – This no power business might just send me into labour,” wrote one.
Another worried resident posted: “What happens if we have a bushfire or emergency. No phone reception for warnings or ability to call 000. This could be deverstating (sic). Something needs to be done.”
One South Yunderup resident told 6PR he was considering a complaint to the Ombudsman.
“Over three consecutive nights, for the last three, we’ve had power outages for five to six hours about the same time every night, it is absolutely disgusting,” Paul said.
Zane Christmas, Western Power head of network maintenance, said most of the outages were load related and the extreme heat and fire danger index was making it difficult to restore power.
“A lot of the faults that we are dealing with at the moment are blown fuses, all sort of excessive load I guess and given the heat it is understandable everyone’s using a lot of appliances and air-cons and what have you,” he said on 6PR.
“I do understand the frustration, it is a fact that the network is fairly resilient but when you are in a heatwave scenario it stresses the equipment more than you would normally get.
“Ordinarily, we would be able to react really quickly and get the power back on but the additional complication of the fire danger index and the danger particularly around bushfires means we can’t re-energise and that means long outages.”
Mr Christmas also addressed customers’ frustrations about the restoration estimates provided on Western Power’s website, admitting they were auto-generated and could differ from reality.
“There is truth to that and really it is the result of the weather, we can’t reinstate supply for the risk of bushfire until the fire danger drops so that is really weather dependent.
“Often what we have done is we have patrolled and made sure as much as we can see it is safe to reinstate and then the control room monitors the fire danger index situation and then as soon as they see a gap they will re-energise, it just makes it really difficult for us to forecast when the power will come back on.
“There could be times where people are off for extended periods waiting for those opportunities (to re-energise).”
Mr Christmas said affected customers could apply for $80 in compensation.
“It might not cover all the expenses but it is the regulated amount that is on offer,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it is not a good situation, we really do understand the frustration. It is not an easy task and also working in these conditions as hard as they can to try to restore that power.”