Australia - Power cuts hit dairy farmers hard : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I table the follwing small article to show how power outage strikes at one group - farmers.



Power cuts hit dairy farmers hard By RICHARD BAKER
Monday 7 February 2000

Last Thursday's power blackouts cost Victoria's dairy industry thousands of dollars and put the welfare of animals at risk, key farming groups said yesterday.

The president of the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria, Mr Max Fehring, said the blackouts meant many farmers were unable to milk their cows and cost some of them up to $2000 in lost produce.

Mr Fehring said the UDV received numerous complaints from farmers who were unable to complete milking or pump water for their cattle.

"The state government showed little consideration for farmers last week," Mr Fehring said.

"The cuts came in between 4.30pm and 6.30pm - peak milking time. There was little or no warning to farmers."

Electricity was cut as the industrial dispute at Yallourn Energy and a spell of hot weather placed too big a demand on Victoria's power supplies.

The president of the Victorian Farmers Federation, Mr Peter Walsh, said Thursday's blackouts were "disastrous" and put the welfare of animals at risk.

"It's not very good for cows to be stuck in a milking shed on a hot day and with the farmer unable to pump fresh water to them," Mr Walsh said.

Gippsland dairy farmer Mrs Rasa Bennett said she was "very edgy" about milking her cows while power was being denied to farms, homes and businesses around Victoria.

Although her farm was unaffected, Mrs Bennett said the timing of the cuts was disappointing.

Pig and chicken farmers also suffered animal welfare problems caused by the power cuts, while fruit and vegetable growers were unable to keep their produce in cool rooms.

Mr Walsh said most farming industries would cope under this week's 1pm to 7pm electricity restrictions, but feared that Thursday's power loss had damaged farmers' confidence.

"It has created uncertainty in people's minds," Mr Walsh said.

Although Mr Walsh and Mr Fehring applauded Friday's decision by the Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, to become involved in settling the dispute, they remain critical of the Government's handling of the issue.

"It is no good saying the industrial powers rest with the Commonwealth," Mr Walsh said. "This is a Victorian issue and it is Victorians who are going without power."


Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 06, 2000


Hi Pieter,

Thanks for these stories from Oz.

We might see similar situations this summer in the USA.

-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moyn (, February 06, 2000.

Pieter, any weaving of these threads into a conspiracy blanket explanation in the corner pubs? I'd be curious to hear what sense the locals make of the bigger picture. Or are folks to busy swallowing crisis after crisis to glimpse a bigger picture?

I still maintain that what happens in Victoria foreshadows LA.

-- Hokie (, February 06, 2000.


Conspiracy theories are always around. I think the people are sick to death of politicians and the changes being forced so quickly. For example last weekend in two by-elections in Queensland State Parliament 25% of the elegible voters failed to cast their vote. That's a pretty impressive percentage when you live in a place where you must vote!!!(source of info is Premier Beattie's interview on ABC radio)

Will post an update later.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 07, 2000.

Pieter, Up to now I have only been able to comment on the situation in Victoria in very general terms. That was because our company was part owner of a number of power stations in Victoria, and my immediate manager hasjust completed a one year secondment to Victoria as General Manager responsible for Operations and Maintenance. However our company has now sold its holding in Southern Hydro, and I can therefore speak more freely.

The situation in Victoria is mainly one of industrial relations, and in this respect Australia is lagging the rest of the world and therefore is now suffering the consequences. The few generation breakdowns that have occured are insignificant in terms of the total generation capacity in Victoria, and it is the industrial problem that has been going on for almost 12 months that is causing the current situation.

Can you dispute the fact that wholesale market prices in Victoria fell to $0.00 per MW (yes, free electricity on the wholesale market) on a number of occassions prior to the current industrial dispute simply because there is an over supply of installed generation in Victoria?

Can you dispute the fact that the current industrial dispute has been public for around 10 months, but was first raised by the union almost 12 months ago?

Can you dispute the fact that the Hazelwood fire was caused by a faulty fluid coupling and was therefore a mechanical and not a Y2K fault?

And can you suggest any relationship between the current issues in Victoria and Y2K?

-- Malcolm Taylor (, February 07, 2000.


Thanks for responding. I post the Victorian saga as an industrial issue and not as a Y2K thing per se. It's not a singular thing at all, but a complex society-in-rapid-change thing.

I did report local South Australian gossip that problems at Bordertown last year were techno related and my server saw visits from persons who quite openly talked about Y2K when we blacked out. I'm no expert though and never claimed so.

I do not believe Victorians are enjoying the privatisation of their vital infrastructure such as electrical power. I know that the South Australian are no happier. The least happy are my ETSA employee friends who feel threatened and less secure in their career. Downsizing is all the rage. Maximize those profits, but employees have feelings too.

In other threads I pointed out that this Victorian industrial problem has been ongoing. It's not a spontaneous combustion through a heatwave.

With other generators failing in the heatwave I said they stressed out. Torrens Island stressed out too. I think it is valid to point out if America is going to have trouble, Y2K or not, such stresses can cascade from industrial problems to technical ones. Maybe I shouldn't post at all. Ignorance is bliss.

I don't think I went to any length to connect Y2K to the Victorian Power outages. Indeed I played it down and preferred to continue on a general awareness line. What others make of that approach is beyond me or mine.

Victorians can make power enough if they want. A South Australian government report of 1996 said that by the year 2000 will see us unable to meet demand. This report is hot property today! It wasn't really noticed before, or acted upon very much.

The TB2000 forum is morphing from a hardcore Y2K calamity house into a place I feel more at home. The subjects I introduce for general discussion may well corrolate and touch Americans. Afterall they do touch me in so many ways.

Malcolm, in all matter electrical you are the expert. I have, and do, exercise my freedom to try and learn and to communicate about my rural region and its troubles, fully aware of the hazards involved.

At no time do I falsely pretend knowledge. However, I do research for political reasons, and, regarding those politicians, may I say that most of the time we treasure each others absence.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 07, 2000.

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