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Power failures at critical times threaten local industry.



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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Monday 2 February 2009

Power failures at critical times threaten local industry

“As the heat wave continued in Northern Victoria, farms and other enterprises depending on power were shocked to hear that their black outs on Friday were a deliberate switch off in areas supposedly randomly chosen by Powercor, despite the serious consequences for livestock welfare and primary production.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray said she had numbers of calls from alarmed dairy farmers who were suddenly without power at peak hour as they needed to milk cows, pump water to cool livestock, and to keep refrigeration going.

“Anne and Geoff Boase, dairy farmers from Katunga milking 370 cows lost power on Friday afternoon. They are amongst those who recognised the potential for disaster when the power goes off without warning, for an indefinite time, and during the worst heatwave in history.

“According to Powercor, the Victorian Government directed them to switch off particular parts of the power grid when demand exceeded supply across the state during the heat wave last Friday. The Katunga district was one of the areas chosen.

“The State Government needs to be aware of the enterprise or power use in the areas they target for turn off. In suburbs the consequences may be that the family simply heads for the beach. In a rural area, it can mean animals dying and a substantial loss of production,” Dr Stone said.

“State Government has also announced that it is intending to use the equivalent of 1000 houses a day use of energy to push water through the proposed new Melbourne pipeline. This is equal to 28% of the power generated by the Guthega hydro-power station in the Snowy Mountains.

M E D I A R E L E A S E

“Unless there is a change in policy, we will have even more serious energy black-out problems in the future,” Dr Stone said.

“The loss of the power was a serious problem for dairy producers who stood to loose production as cattle suffered heat stress without overhead sprinklers, and could not access stock water. Many farms have now been required by law to fence out GM-Water channels, so livestock can no longer access that water, but depend on water pumped to troughs and dairies.

Powercor says that it must immediately respond to State requests to turn off parts of the power grid, without warning, and without compensation to energy users to cover their losses.

“I am appealing to the State Government to introduce some criteria in selecting areas to shut down, and some process for giving people warnings, and some indication of the duration of the black out. They should also urgently reconsider the ill conceived pipeline.”

Media enquiries: Mary Coad 0417 148 110