Reconnecting electricity after a bushfire
There are many considerations to our approach on reconnecting power after a bushfire.
Safety of our people and the community is our first priority, so entering an area after a bushfire will be guided by relevant authorities such as the Country Fire Service (CFS), State Emergency Service (SES), police (SAPOL), state agencies and local government, and potentially the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Our efforts are usually informed by a multi-agency collaborative approach via the Zone Emergency Support Team (ZEST).
Rebuilding the network
Our inspectors must first make comprehensive assessments on damage, which may not be visually obvious.
- We need to inspect all electricity equipment that supplies power to the area, some of which may be a long distance from properties which appear to have no damage.
- Many of our powerlines run through private property in regional areas so there is not always a sealed road to access our equipment.
- In many cases, we also need CFS permission or even CFS escorts before we can enter a fire ground to assess damage.
- We work with CFS to identify sites critical to their operations
- We then prioritise other critical sites such as water and telecommunications, hospitals and evacuation centres as they are essential to public health and safety.
- We will then focus on restoring power to the greatest number of customers in the most efficient way possible.
Powerline inspections and restoration efforts may be hampered by ongoing fires, flare-ups, or other hazards so it can be difficult to provide power restoration timeframes, especially in the first few days after a fire.
In some cases, it may be many weeks to restore power to individual properties or remote sites, dependant on the extent of damage.
Information on power outages is available on our outage map, and Facebook and Twitter are your go-to for general information updates during major events.
The best way to stay informed about estimated power restoration times for a specific property (as well as the local area), is to sign up for updates.
Power outages after a bushfire
We aim to safely restore power as quickly as possible following a bushfire. This may mean using temporary equipment, which needs to be replaced or reinforced at a later time.
After power is restored, there may be further issues on the network which relate to the fire damage, requiring further maintenance.
At certain times we may need to disconnect the power to:
- enable safe cutting or removal of trees or limbs that pose a risk to the network
- install more sophisticated equipment to remotely monitor the network or to limit the number of customers affected by future faults
In these cases, we will attempt to send you updates providing the date and time of our work. You can receive these by signing up for our outage updates.
Less predictable examples of power outages after a bushfire include:
- dust or ash build up around insulators
- invisible damage such as internal faults with equipment
- shorter lifespan of heat-affected equipment
- Rain, dew or fog, following a bushfire can cause further problems such as momentary (a few seconds) or extended outages.
We understand these continuing problems can be frustrating for communities rebuilding following a disaster. We are focused on inspecting parts of the network which have been affected by bushfire.
Reconnecting electricity to your property
Many customers will have power restored to their property service point once we have restored power to our main powerlines. For others, here is some important reconnection information:
- If there has been fire close to a property, we cannot reconnect power to your home or business until a qualified electrician has confirmed the electrical wiring as safe (they will provide an Electrical Compliance Certificate or ECC)
- If we have put a sticker on the main switch in your meter box, your electrician will need to provide an Electrical Certificate of Compliance (ECC) before we will reconnect power
- It is important that ONLY qualified electricians remove safety stickers and security seals when safe to do so
- Customers who don't have access to an electrician can contact the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) on 8272 2966.
- If your property has been destroyed, your electrician will need to organise a ‘new connection’ via your preferred retailer
- We will prioritise all electricity connections for bushfire-damaged properties and there will be no fees from SA Power Networks when replacing a like-for-like service (fees apply to upgraded electricity connections. Retailers may apply a separate fee)
Check with your own retailer (the company that sends your electricity bill) to see if they have any special arrangements for customers recovering from bushfires.
The Department of Human Services has more recovery information available on their website.
Always listen to warnings provided by Emergency Services such as CFS, police or SES. Anyone entering an area impacted by fire should assume powerlines are energised and keep clear on any low or downed power lines.
Report any downed lines immediately by calling 13 13 66.