Electricity emergency

Gas emergency

We know that unplanned outages are frustrating and inconvenient. We have crews on call to respond as quickly and safely as possible when out electricity network experiences an unplanned outage. As the ACT’s electricity network is both above ground and below ground, there are different ways that we find and fix issues to restore power.

  • Underground fault detection

    Evoenergy has smart devices embedded within components of our network that can instantaneously detect underground fault and provide us with detailed information to determine the type of fault and or potential locality. Others may only be identified by customers calling 13 10 93.

    Once the affected area is identified, crews use maps to locate the fault and its connections to other electrical assets. This assists in isolating the cable and ensures any work done on that cable minimises risk to the public. 

    We also look for issues that can cause faults, such as old joints in the cable, tight bends, locations where the cable enters or exits conduits, and where cables run near tree roots or building works. 

    Evoenergy’s first priority is to the safety of the public and their employees. Evoenergy understands how inconvenient it is for customers when the power goes out so they work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.

    Evoenergy’s fault finding equipment is in a purpose-built van. When the affected cable is identified, crews disconnect the cable from the network. A continuity test checks that both ends of the cable have been positively identified as the correct cable which needs repair.

    To find the exact location, crews must first identify the type of fault. This is done with an insulation resistance test. A low resistance fault is one where there is a major breakdown in the cable’s insulation, for example damage caused from an excavator digging or a stake being driven through. High resistance faults are caused by more minor incidents, such as water seeping into old cable joints. These are much harder to locate.

    Once the fault type is identified, crews use other methods to find the exact location. For some low resistance faults, a sheath test injects an electrical signal down the cable. A technician walks the length of the cable with a sensing device to identify the point where the electrical signal leaks into the surrounding earth.

    For higher resistance faults, crews use specialist equipment to send an electrical signal down the cable that analyses the frequencies which reflect off the fault. The cable can also be surged. An amount of high electrical energy is sent down the cable. When it reaches the fault, it breaks through the insulation making a noise and a detectable magnetic field. A technician walks along the cable with amplified listening gear to locate the fault by identifying where the noise and magnetic field is.

    Once the fault is identified, associated civil works is required to expose the faulted cable and allow appropriate repairs to be carried out.

  • Overhead fault detection

    Blackouts in Canberra aren’t nearly as common as other cities in Australia. In fact, the electricity network here is one of the most reliable, according to the Australian Energy Regulator. That doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating or inconvenient when the lights go out. Our crews certainly know that, and they will always work safely and as quickly as possible to restore power for you when a power outage occurs.

    There are a number of main causes to blackouts in Canberra. Trees and tree branches falling onto poles and powerlines are by far the biggest cause of power outages. It’s why we ask everyone to keep their trees and vegetation at least 1.5 metres from lines and poles.

    The other causes are nasty weather, equipment failures, damage by third parties and surprisingly things like animals that unfortunately come in contact with our wires causing damage.

    There are smart devices embedded within key components of the network, which instantaneously detect faults and switch the power off. These devices can provide information to determine the type of fault or potential location of the problem.

    If it’s not a tree on the line or the fault is on the underground network, we’ll use a technique known as fault switching to figure out where the fault has occurred. By switching power on and off, we can locate the issue down to which pole, powerline or underground cable. It explains why some customers can experience their power turning on and off again after a blackout.

    Other faults on the network may only be identified when a customer calls us to report that their area is without electricity on the emergencies and faults line 13 10 93. Getting those calls is really useful – even if it’s something as simple as the customer telling us they heard a loud bang outside their house and now they don’t have any power.

    When it comes to responding to blackouts, our crews’ first priority is to ensure there is no risk to themselves or residents, followed closely by getting power back on to as many customers as possible.

    After an initial outage, we’re able to restore power to the majority of customers in the area by switching them onto another feeder. A feeder is the link between a substation that supplies electricity and your home. Once the affected area is isolated from the network, our crews assess the damage or problem.

    Repairing damage can range from minor fixes to complete replacement of some of our poles and lines. For example, when a tree falls on powerlines, it can send shock waves down the lines and damage a number of nearby poles and wires. When this happens a pole inspector visits the site to assess if the pole is safe to climb.

    If safe, our crews get to work to fix the damage. If the pole isn’t safe, because it might be too damaged to climb or energised and therefore dangerous to touch, we need to get an elevated work platform – also known as a cherry picker – to safely get our crews close to the poles without needing to come in contact with them.

    Sometimes a job can take hours because the type of damage means the asset needs to be replaced altogether. When this happens, crews work hard overnight to restore power in the area, but may have to come back the next day and switch off power while replacing the damaged pole with a new one. With a new pole and the problem trees removed, the chance of a blackout in that area again is reduced.

    Evoenergy crews respond 24/7 to power outages, and unfortunately it can mean being out in conditions that most of us wouldn’t want to experience. Repairing damage can be challenging in rough weather, night time or even days where it’s extremely hot or cold. Fortunately our crews are trained for these situations – but it doesn’t make it enjoyable when they’re being hailed on.

    Compared to other cities in Australia, Canberra has the fewest blackouts. But when you deal with things like trees, weather or adventurous animals, a blackout could happen at your place and that’s why we suggest you be patience and have a battery powered torch nearby. And if you do experience a blackout, you can be assured that our crews are committed – rain, hail or shine – to getting the power back on for you as quickly and safely as possible.

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