Mammoth network investment no replacement for being prepared

Electricity distributor United Energy has invested more than $129 million this year to keep the network safe and resilient to extreme conditions, but recent storms have shown the ongoing importance of customers being prepared.

And with many Victorians set to visit traditional holiday hotspots like the Mornington Peninsula this summer, United Energy is urging new residents to plan how they may respond before, during and after a power outage.

United Energy’s Head of Customer Experience, Adam Nason, said there had already been two major weather events across parts of Victoria this year that had led to lengthy and widespread outages due to the extensive damage caused to poles and wires.

“Extreme weather events and bushfires can both cause extended power outages and are more likely to occur in the summer months,” Mr Nason said.

“In June and October, severe weather ripped through parts of our network, causing major destruction. Both events are a reminder that extreme weather can impact your power supply.”

“While we have made significant investments in the network, there will always be a place for customers knowing and understanding what to do if the lights go out.”

“Our crews have worked year-round to make sure our network is safe and reliable, and we are ready to respond quickly if an outage does occur.

“We recommend everyone has a plan to have the power they need this summer and understands what to do if the lights go out.”

United Energy crews and their resource partners are on schedule with all network inspection, maintenance and testing requirements ahead of the annual bushfire season.

A $129.6 million extensive program of works throughout 2021, including through Victoria’s COVID restrictions, has helped ensure the United Energy network is as prepared as possible for the coming summer.

These works included:

  • Performing 21,292 maintenance tasks across the network.
  • Cutting vegetation away from 41,180 powerline spans, with 100% of the network inspected by our helicopter and ground-based LiDAR vegetation detection program.
  • Replacing more than 700 poles
  • Conducting 131 substation upgrades and augmentations to improve capacity on summer peak-demand days.

Safety devices, including Automatic Circuit Reclosers (ACRs) and Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCLs) are operated at a more sensitive setting on Total Fire Ban Days to minimise the risk of a fire starting. Outages on these days may take longer to restore as crews patrol the lines after each fault.

“These patrols are critical in ensuring that we can safely return power to your home after an outage,” Mr Nason said.

“With more people relying on power in summer than at any other time, it’s critical you know what to do if the lights go out.”

A checklist for customers on how to prepare for summer power outages is available at and includes advice on:

  1. Look after your health – particularly if you rely on life support equipment and need a back-up plan
  2. Stay connected – by having mobile phones and laptop computers charged to stay connected with family and friends
  3. Beware of fallen powerlines – always assume they are live, stay 10m away and call us immediately
  4. Have back-up energy ready – like batteries, lamps and barbeques and have your eskies ready
  5. Stay up to date – Visit the United Energy website for the latest information on outages, report a fault, sign up for SMS alerts and find more tips on how to prepare for and manage a power outage.

United Energy’s faults and emergencies number, 13 20 99, is also available 24 hours a day.