Ergon has eyes on floodwaters but urges residents to be safe
ERGON Energy has its eyes on the floodwaters, but urges residents to also be safe and prepared.
With its focus now shifted from a major restoration exercise in the wake of last Friday's wild weather event, Ergon Energy has been monitoring flood levels in the Fitzroy River in preparation for a likely flood peak.
Ergon has worked closely with the Local Disaster Management Group to identify the impact of this flood height on its network and residents and properties in low lying areas to ensure electrical safety of the community and its staff - to keep everyone safe.
Residents have been reminded that electrical safety must be among the first considerations if flood waters threatened premises.
General Manager Service Delivery Central Steve Leighton said in addition to completing restoration work following last Friday's severe weather event, crews have been out and about over the weekend monitoring and checking network equipment including isolation points that have been installed in low lying areas like parts of Depot Hill, Port Curtis, Kawana, Park Avenue, Lakes Creek, South Yaamba and Ridgelands/Alton Downs, Fairybower Road, Nine Mile Road and Pink Lilly."
"Our approach in these circumstances is to always isolate power to individual premises first but if flood water rises to levels that prevent this, having these isolation points in place and with some of the network modifications we have done will enable us to isolate power to flood affected premises and streets rather than to broader distribution areas" he said.
"In preparation and as a staged exercise we have identified an initial 111 low lying residential premises in Depot Hilll, Port Curtis, Park Avenue, Lakes Creek, Berseker, Allenstown, and 47 rural properties around Fairybower Road and Nine Mile Road that may suffer inundation at the 8 metre level. These premises will receive an initial notification today and we will also attempt to make phone contact with them."
It is intended that further notifications will then be delivered tomorrow to additional low lying premises that are affected at levels above 8 metres.
"We are aiming to leave customers on supply as long as long as it's safe to do so" he said.
"This information has been provided to the LDMG. Some rural property owners have already been advised of the situation by phone and some pumping equipment and sporting fields have already been disconnected along the Fitzroy River" he said.
"We are also conducting daily helicopter patrols of our network assets to ensure that flood waters do not exceed the required safe clearances."
Mr Leighton advised people whose properties may be affected to ensure they take appropriate precautions.
"People often forget about power points which are located close to the ground and believe the threat to their electricity supply only comes when their switchboard is flooded."
"This is a dangerous assumption and could have unfortunate consequences, "Mr Leighton said.
Key recommendations include:
- If flood waters threatened to inundate fixed wiring appliances, (eg: hot water systems, ground-mounted air conditioning units), a licensed electrical contractor should be called to disconnect any potential risk.
- If inundation appeared likely to pose a risk to the premises' wiring and/or switchboard, contact Ergon Energy on 132296.
"But we want everyone to be aware of dangers posed by flood waters around electricity - and if you're in any doubt, contact Ergon Energy for advice," he said.
Other flood safety basics
Meanwhile Ergon Energy has reminded residents of electrical safety basics around flood waters.
Mr Leighton said people should always be vigilant of the dangers presented by flooding, including the possibility of downed powerlines hidden in rising water.
Residents in flood-prone areas have also been reminded to:
- Not use switches or electrical appliances which are wet.
- Not use any electrical appliance or installation with wet hands, or if you are standing in water.
- Switch off appliances at the wall if there is a threat of water entering your premises.
- Solar PV safety - Preparing for a flood
When preparing for a flood event, it is important to always follow correct shutdown procedures. Shutdown procedures should be located at the inverter and/or on the main switchboard.
A general shutdown procedure is as follows:
- Turn off the inverter AC mains isolator (this is usually found in the meter box).
- Turn off the PV array isolator (this is usually found next to the inverter).
- If there seems to be a risk that the water level could reach up to the inverters and cables, also arrange to turn off the roof top array isolator (if fitted).
- If you are unsure of the shutdown procedure, contact the manufacturer or installer.
- Have any appliances or wiring which has been wet checked by a qualified electrician before using.
- Use generators with particular care - including not connecting a generator to household wiring unless a proper isolation system has been set up on wiring by an electrician to ensure power is not fed back into Ergon Energy's system.
- Also residents are reminded to ensure that generators are used in an outdoor environment with plenty of ventilation to avoid the dangers of exhaust fumes in confined spaces.
"Our crews will be on call around the clock to ensure the safety of our customers and we thank the local community for their assistance and support," Mr Leighton said.
"There measures we are taking are for everyone's personal safety and we want to see everyone get through this event safely and unharmed."