The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on all Victorians, changing the way we live, work and interact with each other. Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our customers, communities and our people, and providing a reliable supply of energy to you during a difficult time.
Our emergency management plans are in place to ensure we continue to provide essential services to you. We know that now, more than ever, access to power is crucial to support the new home offices logging on daily, enable children to video call their grandparents, and allow friends to stay connected through social media. We’re also closely monitoring consumption levels and changes in electricity demand so we can respond quickly to any changes.
We understand this is a challenging time for many of our customers. We’re thinking of the other essential services working tirelessly, especially the healthcare workers and the educators who are looking after the vulnerable and the young.
Support for our customers
We don’t anticipate any significant impact to keeping the lights on and the gas flowing, but the situation is fast moving, so we’ll continue to provide updates on any impacts to our services in the future.
If you have any questions or concerns, our Customer Service Contact Centre is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm on 1300 360 795 and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Service faults and emergencies can be reported 24-7 on 13 17 99.
To help those customers in need, along with other Australian energy network businesses, we’ve announced some initiatives to ease the burden as a result of COVID-19:
- We’ll defer or rebate electricity and gas network charges for customers who have been impacted by hardship as a result of COVID-19.
- For small businesses that are forced to temporarily close, electricity and gas network charges won’t be applied from 1 April to 30 June 2020, if their consumption is less than a quarter of what it was in 2019.
More details on the measures can be found here. We encourage anyone that's experiencing financial hardship during this period to contact their gas or electricity retailer.
Planned power outages during the COVID-19 outbreak
Now more than ever a strong commitment to a reliable and safe electricity supply is essential. That means planned work on our lines will need to continue. This work is critical to keeping your electricity and gas supply reliable and safe over the next three to six months and into the future.
We recognise this is inconvenient for our customers at any time, particularly given customers may be self-isolating, working from home, looking after the children and with more food in the fridge and freezer than usual.
We’re doing everything we can to minimise the impact of planned outages on the community and are putting in place the following measures:
- We’ve prioritised all work that will make supply reliable for essential services such as hospitals and medical centres, factories manufacturing medical products such as face masks and hand sanitiser, and supermarkets and other community services.
- Where possible, for those planned works that are critical and must go ahead we’ll reduce the duration to under five hours.
We’re regularly reviewing our planned works schedule and will provide as much notice as possible to help customers prepare. Customers will receive written notification and if they have registered their mobile phone number with their retailer, will receive SMS notifications.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience and understanding in helping us maintain a safe and reliable network.
Preparing for power outages
For a variety of reasons, customers may find themselves spending increased time at home as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Power outages, both planned and unplanned could affect your household activities. Below are some simple tips to consider to best prepare for an outage.
Life Support Customers
Not all power interruptions are planned. Unplanned interruptions can and do occur as a result of events out of our control (such as storms and bushfires, or equipment failure). For this reason, registering as a life-support customer doesn’t guarantee you a continuous supply of power. It’s important that you have a plan in place in case your power is interrupted. Please discuss with your medical practitioner what you will do if you do not have power for your life support equipment. Click here for more information for our life support customers, including how to register.
Food safety during outages
Food safety considerations are important during power outages. Click here for more information from the Victorian Government on food safety during power outages.
Working from home
Electrical and electronic equipment – consider switching off or unplugging sensitive electrical and electronic equipment if a storm, outage or lightning strike seems possible. This may include computers and audio visual equipment.
Saving work and file back-ups - If any of your computers has an auto-save function, consider how frequently it operates. If working remotely, consider your options for file back-ups.
Battery operated torches and radios – make sure you keep them on hand to receive important information in the event of an outage
Chargers – make sure your mobile phones are fully charged and you have charge packs on hand for an outage situation.
Electric gates and doors – some systems have an override (key or lever) to allow manual operation during a power outage. Check your user manual or contact the manufacturer for instructions. Some systems have battery backup and will continue to operate for a short time.
Generators - use generators with extreme caution and only to power appliances directly. Do not connect the output to the switchboard or wiring as this can cause a safety risk for AusNet Services’ own field workers. Make sure a registered electrician undertakes any such work.
If you haven’t already, register your mobile number with your retailer to receive SMS notifications on outages and restorations.
Our people and operations
The safety and wellbeing of our people is critical to us, and keeps your electricity on and your gas flowing. Some of the steps we’ve taken so far and will continue to evolve to support our people across our workplaces include:
- Where possible, office-based staff are working from home and alternative business locations.
- Suspending all non-critical work related travel (international and domestic), cancelling non-essential visits to external sites and conducting external meetings via teleconferencing wherever possible.
- Introducing a new category of leave for employees who need to be at home during this time and can’t work from home.
- Additional hygiene measures including enhanced cleaning and sanitisation processes.
- Practising strict social distancing at all times as recommended by Government Authorities.
For our field teams:
- Our field teams are continuing to provide essential services including responding to faults and carrying out emergency repairs. They are following strict hygiene and physical distancing procedures.
- We’re taking every precaution to ensure the safety and health of our customers, employees and contractors, but we need our customers help by maintaining social distancing (>1.5m) at all times.
- We’re asking any customer who our field teams may come into contact with to declare if they are showing flu like symptoms to ensure we can make arrangements to protect the safety of our people.
COVID-19 health updates
Below are some helpful links to keep up to date with the latest announcements and health advice: