Medical centre needed a generator because of an outage (December 2016)

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2016/21975
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

The customer ran a medical centre that was required to make alternative electricity supply arrangements due to two power outages. The first outage occurred on 27 September 2016 and was unplanned, leaving the centre no time to arrange an alternative electricity supply. The second was a planned outage that was due to take place in two weeks time on 19 October 2016. The medical centre wanted to hire an electricity generator at a cost of about $3,000, so it could keep operating during the planned outage. The customer spoke to the electricity distributor who told her that as a business, the medical centre should be prepared for outages and use a back-up generator at its own cost. Dissatisfied with the distributor’s response, the customer contacted EWOV.

The Investigation

The complaint was referred back to the distributor as an Assisted Referral, but due to the imminent outage, the distributor asked for it to be escalated to an Investigation.

During the Investigation the medical centre arranged for a back-up generator. The planned outage was carried out as scheduled on 19 October 2016. The distributor explained that sometimes work needs to be carried out on their network to maintain a safe and reliable supply. Specific legislation provides for this. It maintained that as a business, the centre is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to minimise its business losses, such as hiring a generator. Also, the distributor gave the proper written notice to the medical centre (at least four business days) about the planned outage, including details of when it would happen and how long it would last.

EWOV reviewed the distributor’s records, and understanding the relevant legislation, agreed with the distributor’s position. However, EWOV views the law as a minimum standard only. We aim to reach fair and reasonable outcomes based on all the circumstances of the complaint.

The Outcome

Taking into account the centre’s whole experience - the inconvenience of the earlier unplanned outage, the nature of the business, service issues and what would be fair and reasonable in the circumstances - the distributor agreed to contribute $500 towards the cost of the generator hire. The medical centre was satisfied with the outcome and the case was closed.

To learn more about planned and unplanned outages, read EWOV’s fact sheet - Planned and Unplanned Energy and Water Supply Outages.

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