You got your request for an inquiry Danny [O’Brien], but you may not like the outcomes. There are at least two issues other than chopping out most of the trees in Gippsland that should be relevant to curbing ongoing power outages.
Firstly is the availability of highly skilled personnel needed to repair and maintain our high voltage distribution network or grid.
AusNet, the current owner of this asset, no longer directly employs these personnel.
AusNet now outsources these technicians and linesmen, thus shifting the responsibility of providing training and apprenticeships to replace an ageing workforce.
Other specialist labour-hire companies supply personnel and compete to provide the cheapest labour and apparently no one is providing training to young, entry-level employees. AusNet took over control of our power distribution network after a conservative government sold off the SEC.
This power network is central to an essential service, and the maintenance of a skilled, fully trained maintenance workforce should be AusNet’s responsibility. Why wasn’t this mandated in legislation when Danny’s predecessors sold off the SEC?
Secondly, the solution to minimising extended and more frequent power outages is to build resilience into the grid by continuing the rapid rollout of renewable energy with integrated battery backups and in addition provide mini-grids in remote communities and all new housing developments. This is something you have shown no interest in Danny. Mini-grids are a proven technology that is currently being rolled out in Victorian communities like Yackandandah, Mallacoota and Phillip Island. With some technical advice and provision of low-interest loans, small outlying communities of five or six households could develop a mini-grid with battery storage and renewable input to minimise their dependence on the state grid. Time to move away from coal dependence and into the 21st century, Danny.
Edward Minty, North Wonthaggi.