Australia - Power "cops" on the beat - two tales : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Story from the Warrnambool Standard Newspaper

Power "cops" will be on the beat

SOUTH-WEST Victorian businesses and households which ignore today's statewide electricity restrictions run the risk of being caught by "power police".

Up to 20 of the specially trained personnel would be on duty in the district, electricity distributor Powercor warned yesterday. They will be among 150 on duty throughout Victoria as the state begins three successive days of State Government-imposed limits on electricity use for non-essential purposes.

However, Powercor said the inspectors would not be out to punish offenders but to advise on proper compliance.

"Their main focus is to ensure people are aware of what needs to be done. We don't want to come out with heavy-handed punishment," Powercor spokesman Stephen Ronchi said. "They will push compliance rather than punishment."

He said fines would be issued only if necessary. "There is the power to penalise if people are not compliant."

Warrnambool largely ignored power restrictions last Friday, with many traders saying they had not been informed of the Government's demands.

Most said they would be happy to comply with the orders this week to help ease the load on the state's crippled electricity supply.

The Victorian Energy Networks Corporation said businesses that did not comply with the restrictions could be fined up to $1 million and individuals $10,000.

Power restrictions may be lifted on Wednesday, but an industrial showdown looms as talks to end the dispute faltered last night ahead of a Government-imposed midnight deadline.

Union officials emerging from the third day of Government-sponsored talks with Yallourn Energy reported no agreement on a single point.

Late yesterday, mediator Neil Pope made a recommendation on the central issue in the dispute - the company's control over the use of contract labor - but parties would not reveal what it was.

Almost all of Victoria's power stations are now back on line after failures at two plants last week, combined with the dispute at Yallourn, forced power companies to shut down supplies to many areas.

Householders face $10,000 fines if they use air-conditioners, clothes dryers, dishwashers, computers, video recorders and electronic music equipment between 1pm and 7pm.

Businesses face penalties of up to $1 million for using air-conditioners, non-essential lighting, television and video equipment during that period.
. . . (Report: DAVID TOWLER, KRISTY HESS and news services)

---------------end part 1---------------

Watts watchers warn wasters

WAYNE Rooke and Colin Williams, of Warrnambool, have embarked on a power trip with a difference.

The duo will scour the area during the next few days, sniffing out electrical cheats in homes and businesses.

But do not fear. They promise not to be heavy-handed when it comes to punishing non-compliant Powercor customers.

"We are mainly out to create awareness, " Mr Rooke, a Powercor enforcement officer, said. "We want to ask (customers) if they know exactly what is going on and give them information. The punishment is there if need be."

He said the duo would doorknock homes across the city as part of their patrol work as well as liaise with local businesses.

They are two of more than half a dozen "power police" who have been assigned to south-west Victoria while the restrictions are in force.

Mr Rooke said most Powercor customers he had contacted yesterday had been compliant.

For safety reasons, Mr Rooke urged residents to ask the "power police" for identification before they let them into their homes.

Powercor monitoring showed that south-west Victorian residents are complying with power restrictions with a 20 per cent drop in usage recorded during yesterday's peak period.

Powercor spokesman Stephen Ronchi said usage in areas bordered by Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Hawkesdale and Port Campbell during 5 to 7pm was down from the usual 50 megawatts to about 40 megawatts of power.

Mr Ronchi said Powercor was pleased with the significant usage drop and that the figures for the region were in line with expectations.

Most Warrnambool businesses yesterday complied with statewide electricity restrictions. The majority of shops in the city's central business district turned off display lights and air-conditioners when the restrictions began but music still blared out from a few retail outlets and music stores.

Some businesses people said the restrictions had affected sales because shops looked unattractive to consumers.

Others were disgruntled with the State Government's handling of the power crisis, claiming they were left in the dark about details of the restrictions. They said official notice should have been given to power customers before the limits were enforced.

Warrnambool Surf Centre owner Trevor Spehr said it was so quiet that he could hear a pin drop in his store.

"It's affected our trade. It's been very quiet. There's no atmosphere to the place because I can't have the video or music going," he said.

Mr Spehr said the Government should have created more awareness among power customers about the restrictions.

Some shop owners said if the ban was not enforced by "power police", few people would have complied with the Government's demands.

Joe Willis, part-owner of Liebig Central News agency, said business had died off during the afternoon.

"It doesn't make a shop look attractive when you turn the display lights off," he said. "We've done everything (to comply). The street isn't as busy as it was this morning. Perhaps people don't want to be an inconvenience later in the day."

Florist shop owner Edna Kirkwood said she had not been notified whether or not florists were exempt from the power rationing.

Her air-conditioner was not operating yesterday and she had switched off part of the shop's lighting but said if the temperature rose she would be forced to turn on her air-conditioner to prevent stock from spoiling.

All television sets used for advertising purposes at Richard Hawker Warehouse Sales were switched off yesterday.

Management at the Harvey Norman store added some light humor to the power crisis. Harvey Norman electrical proprietor Warren Jennings shone a torch on staff to emphasis the bleak situation.

The store had been forced to turn off all electrical appliances used for promotional purposes, air-conditioning and some lighting

Mr Jennings said all responsible businesses had a duty to help conserve the state's critically-low power supply.
. . . (Report: KRISTY HESS. Picture: RICK BAYNE)


Posted for general interest.

Regards from OZ where it's quite warm today....

-- Pieter (, February 08, 2000


They got your guns? And are they now taking you power also? Some how this does sound good. What in the hey is going on?

-- ET (, February 08, 2000.

sorry, I mean doesnot sound good.

-- ET (, February 08, 2000.

Hey ET,

You're hounding in on my turf! I thought *I* was the self-annointed one to bring up guns and self-defense every time Pieter posted something being taken away from the populace in Australia. Oh well, it's nice to have company too, I guess...

Another meager attempt at humor (that's humour to some)by,


-- Someone (, February 08, 2000.

Hey, sic the ferrets on 'em. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), February 08, 2000.


Do you mean to say that these "inspectors" can barge right in to your home?!? Whether you want then there or not? Do they need a get a warrent at least?

And to think that Australia was one of the places I was going to move to if it got too bad here. Better fight it out here till the bitter end.

Anyway, thanks for the news Pieter. Good Luck.

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.2all), February 08, 2000.

No-knock electricity snoopers. Actually happening. Something even the Doomers didn't predict!

-- missed one (, February 08, 2000.

$10,000 fine if they catch you on your puter lurking here in the afternoon.

-- never catch me (down@under.noway), February 08, 2000.


Don't forget: and now they got your money too..."The Victorian Energy Networks Corporation said businesses that did not comply with the restrictions could be fined up to $1 million and individuals $10,000. "

-- Hokie (, February 08, 2000.

"Those who tyrants would enslave, they would first disarm."

-- A (, February 09, 2000.

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