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Gungahlin residents shouldn’t have to pay when the power’s out

By Michael Pettersson MLA - 9 June 2017 7

Gungahlin power outage

If you live in the northern suburbs of Gungahlin, you’ve probably experienced at least one of the six power outages over the last month. These have generally occurred around 6.30pm – just as people are getting home from work, cooking dinner and getting the kids ready for bed.

If you haven’t experienced these outages, I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating this can be. The residents of Ngunnawal, Bonner, Amaroo, Forde, Jacka and Moncrieff are rightly fed up.
These outages have been caused by cable faults, tripped safety settings and in one instance third party damage.

ActewAGL is right to point out that third party damage is not their fault. It is however disingenuous for ActewAGL to lay the blame for the other more numerous network failings onto a one off third party incident.

Fair and reasonable Canberrans understand that no electricity network is without fault.

What most Gungahlin residents cannot understand, however, is that ActewAGL refuses to accept any blame for the outages.

In a statement by ActewAGL General Manager Energy Networks Stephen Devlin noted that: “ActewAGL cannot and does not guarantee 100 percent uninterrupted supply of electricity. While the outages have been inconvenient, compensation is not available as they have not been caused by our negligence or breach of contract.”

I have to say that I find this response disappointing.

Under law, ActewAGL is required to meet certain guaranteed service levels. These relate to the regularity in which a disruption occurs and when it does occur how long it takes to address the issue. In a standard calendar year, there should be on average 1.2 planned and unplanned power outages. If you are unfortunate enough to experience a blackout the lights should be back on in 91 minutes.

On average across Canberra, ActewAGL performs well on these measures. As shown in their 2015-16 Annual Report, the average number of blackout incidences was 0.85 and the average duration was 70 minutes.

But if you’ve ever tried to cross a river, the average isn’t a useful measure. What matters is how deep it is at any one point. Similarly, average measures across Canberra don’t provide much solace to Gungahlin residents who’ve had the lights go out numerous times over the last month.

ActewAGL has a good track record and that’s why their targets are set high. They’ve maintained goodwill in the community by providing a high-quality service. But that goodwill is under threat by these outages. ActewAGL should do the right thing by the residents who have been affected and offer them a rebate on their next power bill.

What do RiotAct readers think? Is compensation fair in this circumstance, or are outages just a fact of life we have to put up with?

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
Gungahlin residents shouldn’t have to pay when the power’s out
1
chewy14 2:19 pm
09 Jun 17
#

Wait, so they are performing better than their targets but you want a rebate, simply because of a few specific outages?
You realise that would actually mean that other users would be paying for those rebates?

2
bikhet 2:48 pm
09 Jun 17
#

Why should Gungahlin residents be treated any differently from other residents of the ACT? I agree that the “six power outages over the last month. These have generally occurred around 6.30pm” that you report is unsatisfactory, but you get what the law or the contract says. If you don’t like it, change the law – or contract – or try to shame ActewAGL into doing better.

3
buzz819 9:24 am
10 Jun 17
#

I agree 100% with the statement in the title.

“Gungahlin residents shouldn’t have to pay when the power’s out”

AND I think you will find that ACTEWAgl will follow that statement to. I mean, if the powers out, you wont be using electricity, so you wont have to pay during those times.

I’m sure you are also going to be asking for compensation for the road works happening around Gungahlin as well, they are an inconvenience as well.

The area is growing at a rapid rate, infrastructure does need to keep up with it, but from you are writing and from what ACTEWAgl have said, they are working on the problems. It is a fact of life. Some times you wont be able to access your internet or might have to have a sandwich for dinner.

4
Tommy Southern 10:29 am
10 Jun 17
#

buzz819 said :

AND I think you will find that ACTEWAgl will follow that statement to. I mean, if the powers out, you wont be using electricity, so you wont have to pay during those times.

People don’t just pay for usage – they pay for the service.

5
dungfungus 12:10 pm
10 Jun 17
#

Tommy Southern said :

buzz819 said :

AND I think you will find that ACTEWAgl will follow that statement to. I mean, if the powers out, you wont be using electricity, so you wont have to pay during those times.

People don’t just pay for usage – they pay for the service.

Correct.
On the ActewAGL statements it is denoted as “Supply Charges” and it is a daily charge according to the plan chosen such as “Home Saver Plus”.

Accordingly, it would be reasonable to request a pro-rate rebate for the time no supply was available. My daily supply charge is $1.38 so if my power wasn’t available for 30 minutes I could demand one forty-eighth of $1.38 ($0.028c) to be refunded.

6
buzz819 6:08 pm
10 Jun 17
#

Tommy Southern said :

buzz819 said :

AND I think you will find that ACTEWAgl will follow that statement to. I mean, if the powers out, you wont be using electricity, so you wont have to pay during those times.

People don’t just pay for usage – they pay for the service.

I just had a look, I get charged 72 cents a day for a supply charge. So the times that it IS ACTEW’s fault they should minus that portion of the time from that.

So… That would still be nothing?

7
JC 6:57 am
13 Jun 17
#

Tommy Southern said :

buzz819 said :

AND I think you will find that ACTEWAgl will follow that statement to. I mean, if the powers out, you wont be using electricity, so you wont have to pay during those times.

People don’t just pay for usage – they pay for the service.

A service fee that already factors in a given amount of downtime every year. And the gungahlin outages are still within that downtime window.

And I would also be sure there is a force majeure clause in there too with most of the outages being caused by third party workers damaging cables which is outside ACTEW’s control. So that is who residents should be chasing for payback. But just wouldn’t be worth it would it? Unless you were a business that lost a lot of sales or stock as a result of the outages.

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