Faulty protection equipment has been blamed for a succession of power outages on the Tomaree peninsula over the past month, which has left hundreds of residents infuriated.
Ausgrid has apologised for the inconvenience caused to residents, some of whom have contacted the Examiner or taken to social media to express their outrage over the outages. One resident likened it to "being left in the dark literally and figuratively".
An Ausgrid spokesperson said that faults which occurred in the Corlette area on September 15, 23 and 27 and on October 2 were caused by faulty protection equipment which was now scheduled for replacement.
"Until this replacement is complete Ausgrid will use back-up protection systems. Customers will not experience any difference to their supply," the spokesperson said.
"A planned outage will be required for the equipment replacement. Impacted residents will be notified in writing at least four days in advance. Once again Ausgrid apologies for the inconvenience."
Corlette resident and former Port Stephens councillor Brian Watson-Will said that the blackouts were being triggered at the same time each day.
"It appears to me that areas affected are Corlette, Dutchmans and parts of Nelson Bay. I'm predicting that the commercial sectors of Nelson Bay - and I know the commercial sectors of Salamander shopping domain - are not affected, nor would Tomago Aluminium," he said.
"More than 25 years ago $40 million was spent by Energy Australia to provide a more reliable power supply to our peninsula, including switching gear at the Frost Road substation, to alleviate blackouts and brownouts that were happening on a regular basis."
Mr Watson-Will opined they were now experiencing what is termed as load-shedding.
"During these lockup times we understand that some of the workforce in this sector may not be available for this essential service, however, we are stuck at home and our power is an essential service. Let's hope they get their act together prior to Christmas when the visitors are supposed to arrive."
"Please explain Ausgrid," was how another long-time resident, Philip Murray from Nelson Bay, introduced his correspondence.
Mr Murray estimated that around 1,600 residences in the Nelson Bay, Corlette and Salamander areas had been affected since the blackouts began.
"Living on a peninsula, I realise we lack a surrounding power network to augment supply when problems arise. But in the last year we have experienced nine separate outages, and four in the month of September alone, and some for several hours (September 12, 15, 23 and 27)," he said.
"The frustrating thing is that the Ausgrid website reports 'ongoing investigation' and an estimate of when power will be restored, but never an open and transparent explanation. The old chestnut 'a tree has fallen on a line' seems unlikely to have caused so many outages. More likely, is the infrastructure aging and struggling to cope with the increased demand due to development?"
Mr Murray said the Ausgrid website claimed that it provided a 'safe and reliable electricity supply'.
"Clearly, the supply is anything but reliable. Due to lockdown, we are mostly at home. Home schooling, people working from home, businesses and even us retirees are all disrupted, and it appears to be at an ever increasing frequency. Why is Ausgrid keeping us in the dark literally and figuratively," he said.
The Examiner reported in June 2012 that more than 35,000 homes and businesses in Port Stephens would benefit from a $140 million investment in the area's power supply.
"Since 2010 work on a number of new power sub-stations in Medowie, Tomaree, Brandy Hill, Tomago, Tanilba Bay and Raymond Terrace would be complete by 2014."
Customers can contact Ausgrid with any concerns on 13 13 65 or via their website.
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