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Andrews leans on power distributors to lift compensation

Andrews leans on power distributors to lift compensation

The Victorian government is pushing electricity distributors to increase the compensation they pay customers for blackouts.

Fed up with blackouts triggered by faults and breakages in the distribution network, the government has taken a tougher stance towards energy distributors and is urging them to go above and beyond obligations in compensating customers.

Almost 7000 Victorian households and businesses lost power on Wednesday night in the state’s third outage in three weeks, as hot weather stretched networks to breaking point.

The blackouts affected residents in Coburg in Melbourne’s north and in Sydenham, Hillside and Avondale Heights, and occurred at a time when the state had more than enough electricity to power the homes but did not have a reliable distribution network to get it there.

Under provisions negotiated by the Essential Services Commission, the companies — which include United Energy, Ausnet and Jemena — are obliged to pay compensation to customers during long-lasting blackouts. But Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was pushing for each of the distributors to pay more than these agreements required. “They are very, very profitable businesses and they should be supporting customers who are impacted by unacceptable, controllable outages,” he told parliament. “Those businesses will pay and they will give support to every affected customer consistent with two things: one, the existing framework and two, over and above that existing framework.”

Mr Andrews met distributors on Monday to discuss compensation for households and businesses that have lost power over January.

He told parliament he had told the distributors to go “over and above” their compensation obligations, and said: “I expect they will”.

Government sources said that the negotiations under way concerned a one-off payment above the written requirements that would set a precedent for future unplanned disruptions.

Currently customers in urban areas are entitled to $80 for blackouts longer than 12 hours, and $80 in rural areas for those lasting more than 18 hours. Distributors are understood to be supportive but how far they are prepared to pay above their obligations is uncertain.

The Australian

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