Essential Energy was forced to reduce its off-peak load to offset increased energy use during the recent heat wave conditions.
The move helped the energy provider securely manage its system.
The decision is rare with restrictions implemented on January 18, 2019 and February 11, 2017.
Customers use off-peak electricity to power hot water systems and irrigation pumps. Off-peak is usually available during periods of lower demand for power, in mid-mornings, mid-afternoon and overnight.
Essential Energy executive manager David Sailisbury said restrictions are a rare occurrence.
“Customers who choose controlled load supply (sometimes known as ‘off-peak’) receive a lower tariff on the contractual understanding that at peak times they may get switched off," Mr Salisbury said.
"During extensive hot weather this may extend for longer periods to avoid more widespread outages.
"Restrictions of controlled load took place on January 18, 2019 and February 11, 2017, and so are rare occurrences, but necessary for the safe operation of the network.
"This does not affect all customers, as many customers are on a controlled load tariff that is only activated overnight."
Mr Sailbury said Essential Energy understands the inconvenience that not activating controlled load can have.
However, as a prudent network operator we need to make this decision from time to time, especially when there’s high demand, or lower than expected generation, to ensure the whole network can access a reliable supply.David Salisbury
"However, as a prudent network operator we need to make this decision from time to time, especially when there’s high demand, or lower than expected generation, to ensure the whole network can access a reliable supply,” he added.
The decision to reduce its off-peak load was one of a range of strategies the organisation has in place to manage the electricity distribution network.
It is designed to minimise customer impacts in the event of power supply interruptions.
The energy provider said regional teams will continue to assess planned outages on a case-by-case basis to determine if these should proceed.
However, any urgent faults identified during this period can require emergency outages to enable power to be restored safely and as quickly as possible.
The organisation said that as an overhead network spanning regional, rural and remote NSW, the network is constantly exposed to wildlife, weather, vegetation, motor vehicle, aircraft and other impacts resulting in unplanned outages.
Despite best practice planned maintenance programs, no energy provider can guarantee customers an uninterrupted power supply as unplanned repairs and maintenance in response to these events are inevitable.
Effective management of the network and co-ordinated responses to unplanned outages have seen reliability of power supply to Essential Energy customers continue to improve, with today’s performance approximately 20 per cent better than ten years ago.
Comparing 2017 and 2018, the average total minutes customers were without power for the year improved by 10 per cent, from 236 minutes in 2017 to 212 minutes in 2018.
Essential Energy’s footprint covers 95 percent of NSW, traversing 737,000 square kilometres of landmass with 183,612 km of powerline.
The network services more than 840,000 customers with approximately 4.6 customers to each kilometre of powerline, which is almost one-tenth the customer density compared to other NSW electricity distribution networks.
Essential Energy’s footprint includes 1.38 million power poles.
For more information about outages in relation to Essential Energy to to its website.
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