Unplanned electricity supply outages (October 2016)

Severe weather, like the storms we’ve seen throughout Victoria this month, can sometimes lead to unplanned electricity outages. 

What is an unplanned electricity outage?

Unplanned electricity outages, sometimes known as “supply interruptions” result in the loss of electricity supply to homes and businesses. There are many causes of electricity outages, including:

  • Severe weather events such as strong winds, heavy rain, extreme temperatures and bushfires.
  • Objects, such as cars and branches, birds and other animals colliding with electricity network equipment.
  • Vandalism, network overload, underground works or simple equipment failure.

Who to contact

Electricity distributors own and maintain the network of poles and wires that deliver electricity to Victorians. In the event of an outage, electricity distributors will be working to mend damaged assets and/or restore supply. Your electricity distributor is based on where you live in Victoria. The Victorian electricity distributors are:

If you lose electricity to your home or business, contact your electricity distributor to find out what’s going on.  Use the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)’s interactive map to find out who your distributor is. Many electricity distributors will also alert customers to an outage via an SMS message and via social media.

Getting through an unplanned electricity outage

If your electricity goes down, assess the situation by checking if the lights and appliances are working in other rooms, if your switchboard has tripped fuses or safety switches, and ask your neighbours if they’re also off supply.

Being prepared for an unplanned outage can help lessen the effects of being off supply, so consider keeping a battery powered torch and radio, as well as spare batteries, in a place you can easily find in the dark. Remember to keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible in order to conserve the food inside them. When electricity is restored it can sometimes be accompanied by a power surge, which may damage your appliances, so invest in surge protectors or unplug expensive appliances until the electricity in back on.

Monitor your electricity distributor’s social media and website (but also we wary of conserving you mobile phone battery) or listen to the radio for details on when your electricity might be restored.

If you have a life support machine, tell your electricity retailer to register your home as a ‘life support property’ – this way your home will be prioritised when restoring supply. But, it’s your responsibility to have a backup plan for times when there is an electricity outage.

Business customers must take reasonable precautions to minimise the risk of loss or damage to any equipment, premises or business resulting from poor quality or unreliable electricity supply. Precautions can include business insurance, surge protectors and generators.

More information about electricity supply outages:

Compensation and claims

You may be eligible for compensation for loss or damage following an unplanned electricity outage. But keep in mind that extreme events that are outside the control of the electricity distributor, such as natural disasters and storms, are not generally subject to compensation. If you’ve experienced loss or damage because of an outage you can contact your electricity distributor and ask for a compensation claim form. EWOV can help if you have a dispute with the distributor about compensation. Remember to keep receipts, photos, technical reports and damaged appliances as evidence to support your claim.

You may also be entitled to a Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) payment from your electricity distributor if it does not meet service standards, including supply standards. Some GSL payments apply if you experience multiple outages (based on the number of times you are off supply in a year), while others apply if your electricity is off for a certain amount of time.

More information on compensation and claims:

Unplanned gas and water outages

This Hot Topic only covers unplanned electricity supply outages. If you experience a gas or water outage, contact your company to find out what’s going on.

More information on unplanned gas and water outages: