Electricity disconnections rise with floodwaters on the River Murray

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SA Power Networks announced they would disconnect electricity supply to customers along parts of the River Murray as floodwaters (and flood peak forecasts) continue to rise over the weekend.

Riverland  irrigators, growers and producers could have their electricity disconnected.

SA Power Networks also warned that disconnections of assets in floodwater may impact power supply to those living on higher ground out of reach of the river.

“The higher the flows, the more disconnections that will be required and once disconnected it could be weeks or even months before power can be safely restored,” said SA Power Networks head of corporate affairs, Paul Roberts.

“The reality is that floodwater and electricity are a dangerous combination that put people and property at terrible risk. We are focused on keeping the community, customers and our people safe in an event that could go on for several months.”

Roberts said infrastructure along the river’s flood plains already were standing in water and SA Power Networks was not going to be able to keep disconnecting supply to individual properties.

“As the water rises, roads are being closed and access to areas is becoming more and more difficult. Realistically, people need to be aware that if they choose to stay in their homes, electricity supply may not be available and it may be a long time before it is restored,” Roberts said.

“We are not prepared to send our crews into floodwaters to undertake disconnections. That means we will be disconnecting electricity supply at points that are safe – likely impacting multiple customers.”

SA Power Networks is reportedly working with customers and will give as much notice as it can of impending disconnections. In the interim, businesses may choose to begin contingency planning.

This could involve shifting switchboards and equipment. In some cases, the relocation of SA Power Networks’ infrastructure may be required. SA Power Networks will be happy to visit with customers to provide advice on scope and cost where needed.

Roberts said many radial supply lines that supply the wider river community cross over the river and flood plains to supply areas that won’t be flooded. These may need to be turned off if safe clearances between powerlines and water are breached. This could impact customers outside flooded areas.

“We are making daily assessments about the safety of electricity supply and we also are having to assess our ability to get crews safely to these areas. We are doing everything we can to work with customers and will give as much notice as we can of impending disconnections,” he said.

Roberts said there were many issues that the public and industry needs to be aware of, including:

  • Avoiding downed or low powerlines
  • Staying clear of all electricity infrastructure in floodwaters as it may be energised
  • Being aware that powerlines – particularly those that cross the river – may be low over flood waters (and therefore safe clearances may be breached)
  • Getting a qualified electrician to shut down solar panels at the rooftop isolator.

Roberts said for property impacted by flood waters, a certificate from a qualified electrician would be required to confirm it would be safe to restore electricity supply.


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