Victoria power grid collapses due to spot fires

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Large parts of Victoria were hit with power outages after bushfires near Benalla knocked out power transmission lines connecting the state to the national electricity grid at approximately 4:00 p.m. local time. Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo were all affected.

Paul Price from the national electricity grid supervisor NEMMCO said that today set an all-time record for electricity demand.

Emma Daniell, from the power supplier SP AusNet said the result of the fires "prompted an automatic load reduction system to kick in, reducing power supply to customers". These rolling blackouts are occurring across the surrounding suburbs lasting one hour a time.

The blackout affected about 200,000 homes, 1,200 traffic lights and "mobile base stations". Trains and trams were reduced to a crawl, with buses replacing trains between Essendon and Kensington railway stations, and on the Werribee loop.

Geelong was the region worst affected, with the entire city losing power from 4 p.m. Power was restored to the central business district area shortly after 5 p.m., however many parts of the city were not restored until 8 p.m.

The Australian Open tennis tournament was not affected.

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