ACT News


Power connections restarted

WorkSafe ACT has lifted a ban on ActewAGL doing underground electricity connections, but customers could be waiting a while yet to move into new homes.

WorkSafe stopped ActewAGL after a fire at West Macgregor on October 19 when a gas pipeline ruptured.

The Canberra Times was later told 55 customers had been caught up in work delays. After initially refusing to release details, ActewAGL said it was temporarily unable to complete any new underground electricity connections where a gas pipeline was near the electricity service cable.

Public servant Chandra Sinnarajah had applied for power to his new home in Wright on October 12, and became so frustrated with delays he contacted The Canberra Times.

Mr Sinnarajah said so far he was out of pocket for eight weeks of unbudgeted rent worth $600 a week, plus storage costs. All up, he estimates he has lost $7000 to $8000.

He and his wife and two children rent at Watson, he works in the city and has a long drive to his daughter's school at Woden.


''It is still a terrible story,'' he said. ''ActewAGL say if the ban is lifted, they still need to clear a backlog of work. I wanted to be a priority.

''People apply for power when they are at lock-up stage and don't need it straight away. They wouldn't guarantee anything. They don't want to give me a date, or commit to anything.''

He was told a clause in his contract stipulated 20 days could elapse before power was connected.

He said the utility, which has a monopoly in Canberra, had shown little interest in his case.

''I cannot give notice to my landlord. I was told, you are 49 on the list, it may take a week or another two weeks.''

In a statement ActewAGL said it had reviewed safety procedures and a crew conducted a successful trial connection on Wednesday morning.

ActewAGL's underground electricity connection crews had been trained in using specialist safety equipment, such as heat guards to protect materials from heat generated during the connection works.

''ActewAGL had identified 55 sites where new underground electricity connections had been requested and where a gas pipe was located within the immediate vicinity of the electricity service cable,'' the statement said.