Power failures plaguing Mullewa
The power in Mullewa is of a “fourth world” standard, according to the local doctor who has dumped thousands of dollars of vital medication following power cuts.
And a local mother, whose son has Type 1 diabetes, said power outages at Mullewa could “end up killing someone.”
Mullewa residents have this year endured 15 power cuts in 12 weeks, some lasting for more than 24 hours.
Told of the complaints by The Geraldton Guardian, Western Power has deployed an emergency response generator to Mullewa.
It confirmed two outages lasted for “well over 12 hours.”
The emergency generator will remain in Mullewa until April when, according to Western Power, “power reliability is good and customer experience is much better.”
GP Dr Nalini Rao said rural India had better power than Mullewa.
“I recently went to India for a holiday and rural areas even have power,” Dr Rao said.
“We’re a bulk billing practice open four days a week, which can’t be sustained like this.
“We have a high chronic disease burden and I’m on the verge of losing my (immunisation) permit.
“(Western Power) have a duty of care and responsibility to provide basic power supply.”
City of Greater Geraldton councillors recently agreed to install an uninterrupted power supply on Dr Rao’s medical refrigerator so she could continue to store medication and vaccines.
Dr Rao, who has worked in Mullewa for three years, won’t get a back-up generator for the clinic and she said she was not going to close.
“I’m here for the long haul,” she said.
“If I’m self-sufficient (with a generator) I lose that anger ... and I lose that fight.
“We’re all in this together. The whole town needs a solution.”
Janice Park’s 13-year-old son requires insulin daily to treat his diabetes.
Her family has been forced to buy small back-up generators to keep the life-saving medication cold enough during power cuts.
“If he doesn’t have insulin, after two hours he’s going downhill,” Mrs Park said.
“Thankfully, we’ve always been home and able to put the generators on ... but if we’re not home the insulin gets warm.
“It’s becoming unsafe. If people use (medication) when it’s not kept cold, they could jeopardise their lives or the lives of their children.”
According to Diabetes WA, insulin exposed to temperatures over 30C will not work properly.
During summer — when Mullewa is hit by more frequent power cuts — the temperature regularly reaches into the low 40s.
Around 13 per cent of residents in Mullewa and nearby towns have diabetes.
Mrs Park said constant power cuts were also putting the wider community at risk.
“There are plenty of people with different medical conditions that can’t handle the heat,” she said.
“A lot of elderly people in town can’t regulate heat and they become very dehydrated and are at risks of falls.
“Our oldest boy has epilepsy and we’re always trying to keep him cool, worrying if it’s going to trigger an attack. Once the phones go out, we’ve got nothing. It’s going to end up killing someone.”
A Western Power spokesperson said the emergency generator, placed at the entrance to the town and integrated onto the grid, would be used once Western Power had assessed if there was damage to the network.
“The ERG will support the load demands of the town, which include critical infrastructure such as water pumps and communications towers, as well as railway crossings,” the spokesperson said.
“It will be an emergency power back-up support until the end of April, where historically power reliability is good and customer experience is much better than during summer.
“We think this is the most responsible course of action for the Mullewa community to give them some confidence in reliability while we work with them on a long-term solution.”
The Yarrumba Service Station at Mullewa has installed solar panels and back-up generators to combat the prolonged outages.
Manager Sudeera Ariyasiri said before the generators were installed, the business lost a lot of stock. “In the summer of 2016 all the ice-creams melted,” he said.
“We can manage, but for others it’s really hard.”
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