Power outages have residents simmering

Ellie HoneyboneGeraldton Guardian

Mullewa residents have voiced their outrage after suffering through a series of sweltering days without power this month, calling on changes to the way Western Power deals with blackouts.

Some customers lost power for more than 12 hours at a time, with Mullewa business owner Saryn Jones claiming she had been without power on five occasions in one week.

“This is a daily occurrence,” she said.

“We are 100km away from the nearest town and it is very hot.

“A lot of people do not have the money for a generator and food is being thrown out.

“My business suffers when people leave town to find somewhere cooler.”

A Western Power spokesman said the recent outages were attributed to strong winds in the area, which were common for this time of year.

Ms Jones suggested representatives from Western Power make the trip to Mullewa and speak to residents about the issue.

“How about we organise a town meeting and invite members of Western Power, the City of Greater Geraldton and the community and talk about this issue and how we can fix it?” she said.

Local politicians are expressing concern the fire danger rating system is hindering power restoration times.

Western Power confirmed it responded to outages on January 4, 9 and 11, and each time crews were restricted by total fire bans from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney has written to Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis and Western Power regarding the severity of the fire warnings after some residents experienced a 15-hour blackout on January 4.

He said the fire warning issued on that day did not reflect the weather conditions.

Moore MLA Shane Love has offered to take a delegation of Mid West constituents to meet Energy Minister Mike Nahan to ensure the issue is taken seriously.

“There needs to be a change to the way powerlines are worked on during hot days,” he said.

“There have been many occasions where local fire brigades and farmers have offered to accompany Western Power employees to the lines to make sure there is no danger but offers are rejected. The procedure needs to be reviewed — we could clear more vegetation, allow fire crews to assist or even use alternative technology such as drones to inspect the lines.”

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