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The Grinch didn’t steal Perth’s Christmas electricity, it was COVID


Just one month after the record-equalling December heatwave, Perth’s record for most 40-degree days in a row was broken, with six consecutive scorchers in late January.

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Ms Sutherland acknowledged feedback from Western Power customers that during the Christmas holiday period many households had full fridges for their holiday celebrations.

It found of the 107,000 customers affected during the blackouts nearly 70,000 were without power for more than two hours and 26,100 were without power for more than 12 hours.

It also found rural customers were more likely to have repeat outages.

Ms Sutherland made six recommendations, including calling on Western Power to improve its network forecasting, improve communication with customers and review its fire risk response policies.

Responding to the review, the state has permanently increased the extended outage payment by $40 to $120.

The blackouts sparked criticism from opposition energy spokesman David Honey, who took aim at Western Power’s preparedness and the state government’s oversight of the state enterprise.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Dr Honey again blasted the government.

“The government has been in office, as I said, for five years and this minister has been in office for three years, yet there has been no sufficient emphasis on improving power supply reliability,” he said.

“In fact, it would seem that the minister turned a blind eye to the woes of the people in communities that are subject to regular disruptions to their electricity supply.

“I accept the climate is changing, as I always have – it is Western Power’s job is to supply power. That means if situations and conditions are changing and there is more load or pressure on the system, the government’s job is to improve that system.”

Energy Minister Bill Johnston again apologised to customers.

“It impacted too many people and was very disappointing. Unlike the Liberal Party when it was in power – which never took responsibility for any actions or outcomes – I again say that I am responsible for the outcome, and I have apologised,” he said.

Mr Johnston said the review revealed 100 per cent power reliability wasn’t possible but Western Power should embark on improvements.

“Importantly, the report noted that over the past five years, the state government had approved all funding requests made by Western Power towards capital improvements to the network,” he said.

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“I have written to the Western Power Chair asking for a timeline of when the recommendations will be implemented.

“Western Power is already preparing for future outages by rolling out batteries, microgrids, standalone power systems and other network improvements.”

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