February 10, 2020
Blackouts in the Blackbutt and Benarkin areas at the weekend were caused by trees coming down on powerlines, an Ergon Energy spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
Several thousand people lost power from about 10:15pm on Saturday night to 4:40pm on Sunday between Benarkin and Yarraman as storms crossed through the region.
There were also shorter intermittent outages around the region.
The spokesperson said these were also most likely caused by branches, other vegetation or animals coming into contact with powerlines, causing protection equipment to shut off supply.
Ergon crews have worked to repair the damage, and the corporation now plans to do an aerial assessment of that section of the network with a helicopter to identify any other potential issues.
The spokesperson encouraged local residents to report any trees growing close to powerlines by calling 13-22-96
He also warned residents to take care as the risk of fallen powerlines was greater during the storm season.
“People should always treat fallen powerlines as live, stay well away, warn others in the area and report them to emergency services on 000,” he said.
“Fallen powerlines can be hidden in tree branches and other debris, so be on the lookout for this life-threatening hazard.”
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the ongoing power issues being experienced by residents in Blackbutt and Benarkin were “simply unacceptable”.
“While I understand some of the outages have been due to storms and damaged infrastructure, there are prolonged and regular outages which are creating a lot of anxiety and problems for the community,” she said.
“Not to mention that when the power is out for extended periods, the area also loses mobile reception. The loss of communications along with power makes this a real safety concern, especially for those residents with medical issues.
“It is particularly concerning that one of the reasons being given for the power outages is to ‘preserve the integrity of the power grid’.
“I think the Blackbutt and Benarkin communities deserve an honest answer. We need to know why this Labor Government is prepared to leave a whole community without power for such a long time.
“We need to know if they are prepared to let this continue or whether something is going to be done about it.”
The Ergon spokesperson said “preserving the integrity of the power grid” was not the correct reason for the outages, and this menu selection was most likely caused by human error in the field.
southburnett.com.au has sought comment from Telstra in regards to the mobile phone outages in the Blackbutt / Benarkin area.