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Monday, 3 April 2000
Page: 15102

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 17 February 2000:

(1) Does Telstra have independent power generation capacity to supply its telephone exchanges in Melbourne; if so, (a) how many generators does it have and (b) what is the electricity supply capacity of the generators.

(2) Did Telstra use its power generation capacity on 3 February 200 when Victorian households and industry experienced power blackouts; if not, why not.

(3) Did Telstra receive a request from either the National Electricity Management company or any Victorian electricity supply or distribution authority to use its independent generation capacity.

Mr McGauran (Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation) —The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question, based on advice from Telstra:

(1) (a) Telstra has independent diesel power generation plants at its major and strategic network sites. In Victoria this amounts to about 265 sites, of which about half are located in Melbourne's metropolitan area.

(b) Telstra's estimated total generation capacity for all Victorian network sites is 12 MWatts.

(2) Yes. On Thursday 3 February diesel power generation was used at those network sites which were affected by the rolling power black-outs across Victoria and also at other selected sites to mitigate the risk to Telstra should these power blackouts be extended. Telstra generators were used to support essential telecommunication network infrastructure and services.

(3) Telstra did not receive any request or notification from NEMCO during the period of rolling power outages at the beginning of February to use its independent generation capacity for load shedding purposes.

In Victoria, United Energy requested Telstra use its diesel generation capacity at its Global Operation Centre in Clayton. In South Australia, at the request of the Electricity Trust of South Australia, Telstra operated its diesel generation capacity at Waymouth and Flinders Exchanges.