Dozens of customers affected by power ban
After initially refusing to release details, ActewAGL has confirmed that about 55 customers have had work delayed while the company tries to comply with the conditions of a WorkSafe ACT safety ban.
The problem is not expected to be resolved until mid-November because of the possible need to do staff training.
On Saturday, The Canberra Times reported that a public servant, Chandra Sinnarajah, and his young family could not move into their newly built home in Wright because ActewAGL had yet to comply with the requirements of the ban, enforced more than two weeks ago. The notice was placed on ActewAGL after a fire on October 19, when a gas pipeline was ruptured in West Macgregor.
An electrician was unable to connect power to the Sinnarajahs' home because ActewAGL was prohibited from doing the earthworks. ActewAGL chief executive Michael Costello confirmed in a statement to The Canberra Times at the weekend that the prohibition notice meant the utility was ''temporarily unable to complete any new underground electricity connection requests where there is a gas pipe located within the immediate vicinity of the electricity service cable''.
''The safety of our staff and of the community is of the highest priority,'' he said.
''ActewAGL has identified approximately 55 sites where works have been delayed due to the prohibition notice.
''We are working with these customers, or their builders and electricians, to … ensure that their site is ready for connection and energisation in order to minimise the extent of the delay. Once the prohibition notice is lifted, ActewAGL will reallocate its resources to ensure these outstanding works are completed as quickly as possible.''
ActewAGL needs to show WorkSafe ACT that it can do the work in a safe manner. Mr Costello did not indicate when this might be.
''In relation to the prohibition notice, ActewAGL immediately acted on this by ceasing all works on new underground electricity connections where a gas line was present … and commenced an investigation,'' he said.
''We have been working diligently with WorkSafe ACT to determine any necessary amendments to our processes and procedures in order to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. While we have acted swiftly on this matter, it is important that this is a thorough investigation, which cannot be rushed, as it involves the safety of our staff and our community.
''We have welcomed the involvement of WorkSafe ACT as part of our continuous endeavour to achieve higher safety standards.''
The Canberra Times asked the utility if compensation was likely for anyone affected by the work ban. It said it would deal with each customer individually.
There is also no guarantee that more people will not be affected by the ban. ''ActewAGL is continuing to process electricity connection requests and servicing crews will attend each work site as scheduled,'' Mr Costello said.
''ActewAGL will continue to undertake underground service connections where there is no gas pipe located within the immediate vicinity of the service cable.''
Mr Costello said if customers had any inquiries or concerns they should contact ActewAGL Distribution's inquiry line during business hours on (02) 6293 5749.