An article today in the Herald-Sun claims Power Could be Cut on Catastrophic & High Risk Bushfire Days To Stop Fires 31.03.2010 that Electricity Distributor Powercor, is considering cutting power to high risk towns on days of extreme fire danger to remove the possibility of fires started through fallen/sparking overhead electricity wires.
This outage covers 52 towns, plus those little hamlets in-between, from Angelsea to Bendigo. That means no restaurants, no ice-cream, no take-away, no swimming pools, no shopping centres, no supermarkets, in fact NO tourism. People would learn to stay away and the income lost would destroy 1000’s of lives and certainly more than one business.
In theory it might seem good, but it can’t and won’t work and will cause more deaths than fires will and have.
People rely on electricity for many things, not just air-conditioning. Simple things like:-
Contact with the outside world,
Opening and Closing garage doors,
These are just SOME of the problems that residents will be faced with. This reaction by Powercor is one of let’s not maintain the lines, let’s not worry about the maintenance, let’s just turn the power off and we can reduce electricity load AND reduce our liability. If’s there’s no power, people can’t sue for downed power lines which may have caused fires. Quote from above article “A Powercor Australia spokesman said turning off the power was a way of preventing electrical assets starting fires in extreme situations.”
Without electricity I would now likely be without my parents – as referred to Here
As a receiver of said electricity and as the payer of said supply charges, I will have to consider not paying the ‘supply charge’ component of my bill as they are not supplying me with a product I am paying for. What would happen then? I would be sued, for not paying a component of my bill, which they failed to supply. Imagine if EVERY person who has their electricity cut on high risk days followed this method, what would be the outcome?
On days when it is being considered cutting power to homes in high-risk areas, these are the exact same days that the very old, the very young, and the frail are most likely to be affected by the heat and this may possibly cause death.
From this article Dept of Health - Environment - 2007 it is claimed that there are 1000 heat-related deaths in people over the age of 65 and that these deaths are expected to climb substantially by 2050. It is possible that a rise in deaths of between 11-16%is possible. Are you prepared to die or allow your parents or children to die because an electricity supplier thinks it’s safer to cut the electricity rather than maintain the lines, like they should have been doing for the past 10-20 years?
I know I'm not prepared to die, although I am prepared for the encroachment of fire on my home and my life, I shouldn't be unfairly punished because I live in an area that is considered high risk. Remember there are areas of metropolitian Melbourne that are also considered high risk and if the fires of Black Saturday had managed to encroach on those areas, the authorities were already prepared to shut major roads and let those suburbs burn.
Electricity suppliers can't cut the power in lieu of maintenance, the governing body MUST ensure that the correct maintenance is done in accordance with all rules, regulations and laws they are governed by.
31.03.10 - 15.24hrs - I've just been shown this article CPUC Rejects SDG&E's Power Shutoff Plan from a San Diego newspaper in the USA. It covers EXACTLY what I have referred to above.
Note:- "Critics of SDG&E's proposal have argued it would leave vast parts of the county without vital services during times of emergency. Water couldn't be pumped, medical devices would be inoperative and residents would not be able to turn on their televisions, radios and computers or receive phone calls to get critical emergency information, according to opponents of the plan."
"The shut-off plan has always been a diversion from the real problem: for years, SDG&E has failed to enact known safety measures that would prevent wildfire caused by its infrastructure,"
Turning off the power will cause the loss of more life, through heat stroke, and/or accidents and house fires, than bushfires would cause. The events of Black Saturday were claimed to be a once in a 100 year event. Yet if the electricity suppliers had it their way - they'd shut off the power when the sun sneezed.