Australia - power crisis - just another business tale : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Businesses "not told" to ration electricity

WARRNAMBOOL yesterday largely ignored orders from the State Government to cut down on power usage. Air-conditioners were buzzing and lights blazing in the city's major chain stores and central business district despite the Government implementing mandatory power restrictions across the state between 1pm and 7pm.

The restrictions will also apply on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in a bid to boost the state's power grid which has been drained to critically low levels. They will not be in place during the weekend.

Domestic customers have been ordered to turn off major electrical appliances and lighting during the restrictions, with businesses and industries told to turn off air-conditioners and decorative lighting.

Victorian Energy Networks Corporation spokesman David Guthrie-Jones said businesses that did not comply with restrictions could be fined up to $1 million and individuals $10,000.

Victorian electricity distributors would be able to conduct random checks on households and businesses to ensure that consumers were adhering to power restrictions, VENcorp said.

But a survey by The Standard yesterday found most businesses had not complied with the state's mandatory restrictions.

Some said they had not been informed of the restrictions, with others waiting to be personally contacted by the relevant bodies implementing the power ban.

Richard Hawker, of Richard Hawker Warehouse Sales, had most of his television sets and lighting operating yesterday afternoon.

The restrictions also included switching off TV or video equipment used for promotional or advertising purposes.

"I haven't heard anything about it at this stage. No one has officially told me anything," he said.

Mr Hawker said he would comply with the restrictions next week if other businesses followed suit. "People actually need to be directed to do it (but) I think everybody should set the example and act out of common sense," he said. "It wouldn't worry me to turn a few lights off."

A co-owner of Warrnambool's Healthy Alternatives, Leanne O'Brien, said she was also unaware of the restrictions but would be happy to comply with the Government's demands.

"If it's going to help, we'd be happy to. If there isn't enough power then somebody's going to suffer," she said.

Shops at Warrnambool's Gateway Plaza also failed to cut back on power, with all lights and air-conditioners operating.

Gateway Plaza general manager David Turner declined to comment on why the complex had not cut back on its power usage.

The limited use of air-conditioners came on a day of total fire ban, when temperatures topped 40 degrees in some parts of the state.

Powercor spokesman Stephen Ronchi said the power restrictions eliminated the need for further blackouts across the region yesterday. "There has been no load shedding required."

People exempt from power restrictions include elderly persons requiring support services to assist with daily living, disabled persons, small children, sufferers of terminal illnesses and other chronic conditions, and frail persons.

Hospitals, nursing homes, supported residential services, disability institutions and child-care centres are also exempt.

For further information on the exemptions phone the Department of Human Services on 1800 634 245.
. . . (Report: KRISTY HESS



General interest. I post this to show ordinary people trying to cope with the power crisis. Take care....

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 05, 2000


No air conditioning means no major computer usage...

Maybe some companies could use backup generators...if maybe they prepped for Y2K?

-- Mad Monk (, February 05, 2000.

Shops left in the dark

Warrnambool butchers Pat and Patricia Bouchier were caught in the blackout and used ice packs to chill the meat until power was restored.

BUSINESS operators in a Warrnambool shopping complex were upset yesterday they had been left in the dark about plans to cut power supplies in parts of the city.

Most of west Warrnambool was without power for more than two hours as part of a series of blackouts which hit the region.

The Morriss Road shopping complex, which has about half a dozen shops, was hit by the blackout, with a number of businesses forced to close for part of the afternoon.

Butcher Pat Bouchier, of Bouchier's Meats, said the power cut wouldn't have been such an inconvenience if shopkeepers had been in advance.

"We were just caught. We weren't aware of the problem at all until it happened," he said. "If we had've known we could have hired a portable generator, so we had to close up."

Mr Bouchier said it was frustrating to know his cluster of shops was one of the few Warrnambool business districts which was hit by power cuts.

"I drove up the street and there were lights on everywhere. It got me very aggravated to think we had to suffer," he said.

Mr Bouchier said the hairdressing salon next to his shop had also suffered from the blackout. Some customers were left with wet hair because the driers were inoperable. Electric clippers were left idle for most of the afternoon.

Greg Lane, owner of the Morriss Road milk bar, said although the power cuts were annoying, it could have been a lot worse.

"We are just lucky it wasn't 40 degree heat like it was the other day. We got the cool change and we managed to cover everything up," he said. "But it's just annoying. It was a bit of luck we happened to hear on the news they were happening.

"The girls (hairdressers) were upset. They had people with wet hair and couldn't do much either."

More than 3000 Warrnambool Powercor customers were affected by the blackouts during the afternoon. The first blackout hit west Warrnambool at 2pm. Power was cut in another part of the city at 4.30pm. It lasted for less than an hour.


Posted for general interest....hehe...take care America, are you next?

-- Pieter (, February 05, 2000.

"take care America, are you next?"

Well, I'll just repost the text of a story that ran January 7 on MSNBC. Maybe that will give folks a clue. ----- Power grid is stressing out, U.S. says Federal report finds competition has degraded reliability

By Miguel Llanos MSNBC

Jan. 7  Next time you turn on the lights, think about this: A new federal study of power outages last summer has concluded that the reliability of the U.S. power grid has been "considerably eroded." A big factor, it found, is that utilities that used to cooperate are now fiercely competitive.

'If lawmakers don't act they should be held collectively accountable for what happens to the grid.' Ralph Cavanagh, Natural Resources Defense Council

THE FEDERAL government opened up competition in 1996, the idea being to lower electricity prices and save consumers money. Today, some 163 million Americans in 24 states have what proponents call the "power of choice". Unfortunately, an Energy Department task force said in its interim report on power outages, that has also meant "some utilities have adopted a strategy of cost cutting that involves reduced spending on reliability."

Moreover, competition has also meant that it's harder to figure out who's responsible for reliability.

"The overall effect," the report noted, "has been the infrastructure for reliability assurance has been considerably eroded."

The report also suggested the problem will get worse unless corrective action is taken. Power quality and reliability "are increasingly important in a society that is ever more dependent on electricity," it noted.

Aging infrastructure and increased demand for power have strained many transmission and distribution systems to the point of interrupting service ... (and) stressing the electrical system, the report added.

TRANSMISSION ISSUE TOO While the task force focused on distribution of electricity from utilities to customers, the industry has been ringing alarm bells over another reliability issue that could disrupt the nation's electricity flow.

The North American Electric Reliability Council, an industry group, last month wrote to the House Commerce Committee, stating that last summer's power outages show "we are facing a real and immediate crisis."

The council, whose members operate the transmission of power across the country, warned that "we may not be able much longer to keep the interstate electric grids operating reliably."

Utilities "who used to be cooperate voluntarily under the regulated model," it added, "are now competitors without the same incentives to cooperate with each other or comply with voluntary reliability rules."

LEGISLATION, INCENTIVES On both transmission and distribution issues, federal legislation is seen by many as the solution to the downside of unbridled competition.

After receiving the interim task force report Tuesday, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson urged Congress to enact legislation aimed at increasing the reliability of the power grids.

The task force itself suggested states and the federal government provide incentives so that utilities "maintain and upgrade" their reliability infrastructure.

"The problem is not that we have not learned from past outages," the task force wrote. "Rather, it is that in many instances, we have not taken the necessary steps to design and implement the solutions."

Rep. Tom Bliley, R-Va., is a key player as chairman of the House Commerce Committee. An "Electricity Competition and Reliability Act" has been stuck in committee even though he's warned that "without measured comprehensive federal restructuring legislation, all the benefits of competition will not accrue and those benefits will not reach all consumers."

The key, he added, is to pass legislation that "improves reliability and ensures open and robust competition."

But the complexity of the bill might have kept some lawmakers from focusing on it, and it's also embroiled in the traditional controversy of state vs. federal rights.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY Joining the call for legislation is the Natural Resources Defense Council. Ralph Cavanagh, codirector of the conservation group's energy program, calls the reliability issue a "major problem" because there's no central authority to control the flow of power on the nation's grid.

"The fundamental problem," he said, "is that we have reliability policemen around the country who don't have the authority to issue speeding tickets and people are starting to speed."

The NRDC favors a central authority, along with a stronger role for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to keep grid users in line. "Competitors all have an incentive to maximize their own benefit," he says, and that means gridlock and power outages unless someone's there to monitor the grid.

The group also argues that incentives for utilities to be more energy efficient would ease gridlock, reduce power outages and even save money.

Up until 1994, energy efficiency funds were required by state regulators but restructuring has eliminated that, Cavanagh notes.

Federal legislation could address that, Cavanagh argues, "but what's been missing is a risk associated with doing nothing."

"If lawmakers don't act, he adds, "they should be held collectively accountable for what happens to the grid."

PUBLIC INPUT VIA WEB The Energy Department task force, made up of government and academic experts, looked at problems in Chicago, New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, the mid-Atlantic and southeastern areas.

The department is taking public comments on the issue through the end of January on its Web site

The interim report is available

-- Jackson Brown (, February 05, 2000.

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