‘Third world’ power

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Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian

A Port Denison restaurateur whose business lost power this week has delivered a blistering critique of the electricity network outside Perth, describing it as “third-world” standard.

Sonia Kerr said if the ongoing outages in Port Denison happened in Fremantle, the problem would be fixed in a week. “In one particular year, we had 17 days without power which cost us more than $20,000 in lost trade,” she said. Energy Minister Bill Johnston conceded problems with traditional methods of delivering power reliability.

A Port Denison restaurateur says ongoing power issues in the regions are damaging WA’s credibility with international tourists.

Southerlys Harbour View Bar & Restaurant had to turn away Chinese customers on Tuesday — Chinese New Year — because of an unplanned power outage, resulting in about $1000 of lost trade.

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Sonia Kerr, who operates the restaurant with husband Callum, said loss of trade was one thing, but loss of credibility was another.

“It’s a terrible look. It’s Chinese New Year, we have a group of Chinese come through and we can’t even offer them a ham sandwich,” she said. “They were very disappointed — and I don’t know where they would have eaten between here and Geraldton.”

Another group of international tourists used lighters to make their way out of the restaurant and made light of the situation, but Mrs Kerr said it would hurt tourism.

“If you were turned away from a restaurant because there was no power, you wouldn’t come back,” she said.

Mrs Kerr said the restaurant’s monthly power bill had risen from about $1200 about a decade ago to $3500.

“The only consistent thing is lack of supply and power price rises,” she said. “If the outages that happened here happened in Fremantle it would be on the front page of the paper for a week and it would get fixed, but it’s like we’re a third-world country out here and treated like second-class citizens.

“In the 12 years we’ve been here, we haven’t seen any maintenance.

“In one particular year, we had 17 days without power which cost us more than $20,000 in lost trade.”

Karen Mitchell, who has lived at nearby Springfield for 15 years, said power outages happened at least once a week. “You’ll get them when there’s no adverse weather, which would indicate lack of maintenance,” she said.

A Western Power spokesman said about 3000 customers in Port Denison, Greenough and Mullewa were affected by an outage from 7.30pm which lasted between 20 minutes and an hour.

He said the cause of the outage was not known.

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