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Day of the outages

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Sarah Herrmann, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Several Wool Bay residents were frustrated by more than 30 momentary power outages on Thursday, January 25, which reportedly damaged appliances, adding to a steady stream of blackouts for the small township over multiple years.

Locals said between the power first going off around 12.30pm and being restored around 9.30pm that night, power flickered on for five to 15 seconds every 10 to 15 minutes before turning off again.

These surges occurred over 30 times across the afternoon.

Appliances allegedly ceased to work following the incident, including Di and Martyn Thomas’s wi-fi modem and Dave and Lorraine Norton’s air conditioner, printer and bread maker.

“We had to wait two weeks for a new modem, it cost us $200 and it was just really difficult with no internet for that amount of time,” Mrs Thomas said.

An SA Power Networks spokesperson said the momentary outages — the high number of which they described as unusual — were caused by a previously damaged insulator which, while continuing to function during dry conditions, failed due to rain on January 25.

“The system is set up so that when there’s a fault … the equipment turns off the power supply and then it will make a couple of attempts to resupply by turning the power back on,” the spokesperson said.

“If we had it set up just to go off when there’s a fault then you’d have to wait a couple of hours for a crew to get to site… so it’s a very good system for minimising the impact of longer outages on customers.”

Residents said the persistent flickering was the worst outage they’d experienced, despite the town being without power so often that some residents are annually reimbursed by their electricity providers.

Before January 25, resident Amanda Pascoe said Wool Bay had outages on November 13, December 11 and December 28.

An SAPN spokesperson attributed these three outages to lightning, ElectraNet, and pollution on insulators respectively.

While some residents expressed content with SAPN’s response to the January 25 outages, others including Mr Norton said they want the long-term hindrance of frequent blackouts further investigated, rather than band-aid solutions.

Mr Norton said neighbours check each other’s circuit breakers if someone is away during an outage, but the possibility of loss of power still causes inconvenience and anxiety.

“The biggest worry we’ve got is that we rely on CPAP machines at night time; medically, we’ve got to have it otherwise we could not wake up,” he said. 

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 13 March 2024

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 13 March 2024.

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