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Victoria power outages affect local businesses and supply chains

Power Outages

On Tuesday 13th February, around 500,000 Victorian homes and businesses were hit by widespread blackouts following severe storms and extreme heat, resulting in disruption across the state.

Around 90 percent of those affected were reconnected within 48 hours. However, thousands of Victorians are still without power and won’t be back online until the middle of the week, according to latest updates.

The outages began when storms knocked down hundreds of powerlines and power poles, while six high-voltage transmission towers were taken out in Anakie – a small town between Geelong and Bacchus Marsh.

This resulted in AGL’s Loy Yang A power station in the Latrobe Valley – one of the state’s three remaining coal-fired power stations – being disconnected from the grid, leading to load shedding (switching off customers) in an attempt to relieve stress on other power stations.

Across the state chaos ensued as schools closed, trains and trams were cancelled, and traffic lights went out leading to transport and delivery delays that caused pressure on supply chains.

Local businesses were hit especially hard, with online pet store Laila and Me sharing on social media that it had disposed of thousands of dollars worth of stock at its Bendigo manufacturing facility, resulting in delayed orders and limited product availability.

The story was much the same for thousands of businesses across the state as florists scrambled to relocate stock to cooler areas in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, while cafes, restaurants, shops and pubs lost perishable items, turned customers away and cancelled orders.

The owner of Mulgrave IGA, Luckee Kohli, told A Current Affair that he estimates a loss of $150,000 in stock, while local Belgrave butcher, Stuart Hamilton of Bill’s Meats, told the program he had nowhere to store refrigerated meats.

“We expect to lose about $20,000 because once the meat gets to a certain temperature, it really has to get disposed of,” he said.

“It’s going to take us weeks to get back to full production again.”

In an official statement, Opposition Leader John Pesutto said the Allan Government must provide financial assistance to the thousands of Victorian businesses who were impacted by the mass power outages.

“Many are hardworking, family businesses who are the lifeblood of our communities and provide important jobs across the state,” he said.

“They’ve been severely impacted by an event they had no control over and which was the result of a system failure Labor had presided over.

“The Government received many warnings about the need to strengthen the resilience of Victoria’s energy transmission network but failed to act.”

Meanwhile, appearing on Seven’s Sunrise program, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neill said “There’s some really important questions to ask and answer here about how it’s possible that a country like Australia can lose power for 500,000 people because of a storm”.

As of Sunday evening, AusNet confirmed 6,800 of its customers were still without power.

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