Farmers in the Euroa district are buying generators because the power supply system has become so unreliable.
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Farmers buy generators due to power failures
Residents line up to tell their stories at community meetings discussing power outages.

Farmers in the Euroa district are buying generators because the power supply system has become so unreliable.

A series of meetings to discuss the poor performance of the electricity system last week attracted about 300 people.

Customers have described the system as ‘third world’ and are demanding something be done to improve the reliability.

Anna Toland from Toland Poll Merinos said their farm relies on power to provide water to sheep, to drive the augers for feed supplies and to run the shearing shed.

In one recent example, they had shedded several hundred sheep in preparation for shearing when the power went off.

Although it was a shorter interruption, they never have any idea how long the power will be out for.

State Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland, who called the four town hall meetings —in Violet Town, Nagambie, Euroa and Longwood — said people’s lives and businesses were being impacted enormously by the high number of disruptions.

She said there had been 96 planned and unplanned outages in the past 12 months.

The unreliability of the line has been known for at least a decade, Ms Cleeland said.

The outages have caused problems for farmers, residents, businesses, schools and even small CFA stations where the doors are electrically operated.

State Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland addresses a town hall meeting called to hear about the power outages.

In Violet Town, the Ellen Frances Hotel-Motel is being strangled by unplanned power interruptions. Licensee Fiona Brown has counted eight outages in two months.

“The problem is once the power goes out I have to close and send the staff home,” she said.

“Whether it’s 15 minutes or two hours, I don’t know. Once the business shuts down I can’t call the staff back.”

Kevin Lied depends on power for a CPAP machine required to assist his sleep apnoea.

In one month his Longwood property has lost power for 20 hours, 32 hours and 26 hours on separate occasions.

The power interruptions have been getting worse in recent years.

State Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland and Federal Member for Nicholls Sam Birrell hear the complaints about power outages.

Tamleugh travel agency director Tess Ellis said the blackouts sometimes made it impossible to do business.

In December the power supply dropped out almost every second day.

“I have to work on weekends because I just cannot get my work done due to the interruptions,” Ms Ellis said.

“Sometimes I can’t issue tickets to customers because the power fails.”

She lives on a rural property with her husband and farmer Gavin Ellis, who also has to work around power cuts that interfere with water supplies.

Ms Cleeland said the communities of Violet Town, Euroa and Longwood are supplied by a single feeder line without any alternative source.

Any disruptions on the single line causes outages.

She said she has complained to the power network owner, Ausnet, but has been unable to secure a commitment to upgrading the supply.

Ms Cleeland is focusing her attention on having the state and federal governments tighten up regulation on energy companies.

“When parliament resumes in February, addressing these outages will be my top priority.”

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