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AusNet to pay $12m after outage tracker crash

More than 12,000km of power lines were damaged in the wild weather that hit Victoria in February.

More than 12,000km of power lines were damaged in the wild weather that hit Victoria in February. Photo: AAP

Electricity distributor AusNet will pay millions in customer compensation and to build outage back-ups after storms left millions Victorians in the dark.

AusNet Services has entered a court enforceable undertaking to pay $12 million for its failure to provide customers with adequate information when its online outage tracker crashed under massive traffic in February.

About 255,000 AusNet customers were left without power following severe storms on February 13.

Statewide, more than 12,000km of power lines were damaged in the wild weather, cutting power to as many as 530,000 homes and businesses.

Ausnet’s outage tracker was not fully restored until a week later.

Essential Services Commissioner Kate Symons said AusNet acknowledged its failures, which breached Victorian energy laws.

“The commission has accepted a court enforceable undertaking … for AusNet to directly contribute $12 million to provide remediation to its affected customers and to improve community energy resilience to extreme weather events,” Ms Symons said in a statement.

Energy resilience measures include grants to councils and community groups to offer charging and communication services during outages, along with local power generation to keep businesses going during blackouts.

AusNet must also improve its systems, issue a formal apology, pay for consultant reviews and report its progress to the commission.

The total figure represents an extra $2 million on top of AusNet’s previously announced Energy Resilience Community Fund, and will go directly to charities and Financial Counsellors Australia to support consumers.

The undertaking requires AusNet to distribute the $12 million by the end of 2026.

– AAP

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