Essential Energy works being carried out on Monday to repair a power line after a tree fell over it.
Essential Energy works being carried out on Monday to repair a power line after a tree fell over it. Contributed

Power outages spark political debate

REPAIR of power outages across Northern NSW has sparked political debate, with Essential Energy only able to fix switchboards and not the wiring inside flood-affected homes.

If appliances or wiring inside a property is damaged, Essential Energy pulls the switchboard fuse and cuts power off from the affected property, with other electricians expected to fix the defects, and then call Essential Energy to restore power supply.

Logistics of the repairs has triggered a call from Labor Lismore City Councillor Eddie Lloyd for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Lismore MP Thomas George to "send a team of electricians house-to-house”.

"... after the harrowing experience that so many people have been through, it is not fair to expect them to wait until they can get - or afford - a private electrician to come over to their house.” 

Lismore MP Thomas George said Lismore City Council had not officially expressed concerns over the issue in his meetings with them.

"However I do have people that have expressed their concerns to me that this is an issue and I have raised it in an appropriate phone conference with the emergency services Minister Troy Grant and it will be looked at.”

Labor's Shadow Minister for Energy Adam Searle MLC blamed staff cut backs for the issue.

"In the past, this function would have been carried out by Essential but continuous job cuts under the Liberal National Coalition Government have stripped it of capacity,” he said.

"Since they took office in 2011, nearly 1450 jobs have gone from Essential with 48 being abolished since Christmas 2016 and another 550 to go before mid-2018. The company has signalled it will get rid of another 1000 jobs by 2019.”

More than 250 crew members on the ground have made repairs to the network and restored power to customers across the Northern Rivers, completing Lismore areas and continuing in Murwillumbah, Burringbar, Condong and Tumbulgum today.

Customers can contact Essential Energy on 13 20 80.



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