Power cut to 30,000 homes

Power cut to 30,000 homes

23 November 2006

published by www.news.com.au

Australia — A grass fire burning in Sydney blacked out 30,000 homes andtwice plunged the NSW Parliament into darkness yesterday.

A NSW Fire Brigades spokesman said about 2ha were alight near RookwoodCemetery, near Homebush Bay.

An Energy Australia spokeswoman said the fire was burning close to powerlinesand, as a result, power had been lost to about 30,000 homes in suburbs includingSefton, Greenacre, Bankstown and Lidcombe.

Callers to Energy Australia were played a recorded message on their emergencyservices line explaining the reason for the blackout.

There had also been “dips” in power supply in other parts ofSydney.

Some city buildings were affected, with two Japanese tourists stuck in thelift at Hilton Hotel for several hours.

And NSW Parliament was twice plunged into darkness as power surges hit thecity.

Parliament House experienced the blackouts in the afternoon, the second one,at 5.15pm, lasted several minutes.

MPs waited in darkness before power was restored and debate resumed.

Shadow minister for the environment, Michael Richardson, said the lights wentout just as he started to speak about renewable energy.

“In Question Time today Morris Iemma boasted that his Government had thebest record of reliability of electricity supply in Australia,” MrRichardson said.

“An hour later the lights went out – he couldn’t even maintain supplyto the NSW Parliament.”

There was another blackout just after 5pm and Mr Richardson said “it’sironic we were debating a motion on renewable energy when Morris Iemma can’teven supply current energy needs”.

Soaring temperatures also slowed trains across Sydney yesterday aselectricity problems and expanding tracks forced safety speed restrictions.

CityRail advised that services were delayed following power surges thataffected many parts of Sydney.

Train control was forced to delay trains across the network as the mercuryhit 38C and winds rose to gale force.

CityRail reported delays of at least 10 minutes. In some outer parts of thenetwork speed restrictions were enforced because the high temperaturesthreatened to buckle the rail lines.

A spokesman for CityRail said the “WOLO” conditions – an oldtelgraphic code for “slowdown” – reduced average train speeds by10km/h.

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