Western Power outage hit Margaret River area, leaving thousands without electricity

Staff writerThe West Australian
The outage has hit Margaret River during the peak tourist season.
Camera IconThe outage has hit Margaret River during the peak tourist season. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta Margaret River Times

A huge New Year’s Eve outage has hit Margaret River, leaving thousands of locals and holidaymakers without power.

The Western Power outage hit the tourist haven this afternoon, affecting an estimated 7,531 households during the peak tourist season.

The areas affected included Margaret River, Cowaramup, Gnarabup, Witchcliffe, Gracetown, Burnsite, Prevelly, Rosa Brook, Wilyabrup, Rosa Glen, Redgate, Osmington, Bramley, Treeton, Kaloorup, Forest Grove, Metricup and Schroeder.

A Western Power spokesperson said most of the homes had power restored within 45 minutes and, by 1.30pm, only 1,498 people remained without electricity.

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However, it was estimated it would still take hours until it had restored power to everyone.

The spokesperson said the outage was caused by a wire down on a transmission line.

“We’re backfeeding power to the majority of customers in the impacted area but right now estimated restoration is looking like 6pm as we need to get a crew to the site and repairs completed,” they said.

Thankfully the scorching temperatures of the past week have tempered slightly, with the mercury forecast to reach 24C today.

People are being advised to stay at least eight metres away from any fallen or damaged power lines.

During Christmas, more than 34,000 households were left without air-conditioning during the heatwave.

Perth suburbs including Baldivis, Dawesville, Clarkson, South Yunderup and Kelmscott were among those left sweltering in the hea during the outages.

On Thursday, mounting pressure say WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston double the compensation payment from $80 to $160 for those who had lost power for more than 12 hours.

The electricity cuts began on Christmas Eve and continued through Perth’s sweltering heatwave which had daily temperatures above 40C.

The massive power interruption was caused by individual feeder failures which was followed by challenges reconnecting to the grid.

Mr Johnston apologised for the inconvenience caused and promised an independent review of the situation on Tuesday - the same day he said the $80 payment was an appropriate level of compensation.

When pressed on the issue at the time, he said the McGowan Government would look into whether the one-off figure was enough.

Some residents affected told The West Australian they were forced to bin hundreds of dollars worth of Christmas leftovers after losing power.

Opposition energy spokesman David Honey said the original $80 payment would not even cover the cost of the lost food for some families.

Mr Johnston on Thursday announced the revised figure and said people could apply for the compensation if they lost power for more than half a day.

“An independent review into what happened during the long weekend power outages will commence in the coming months,” Mr Johnston said.

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