Heat fears for frail in power cuts

A BUNDABERG woman says elderly people are being put at risk by power companies that hold scheduled outages in the hot summer months.

Ergon Energy held planned outages for about five hours yesterday and today to allow it to upgrade and maintain equipment.

But patient advocate Beryl Crosby said power outages in the high temperatures seen this week were irresponsible.

"It's the worst possible time to do it," she said.

"It's five-and-a-half hours in the middle of the day."

Ms Crosby said she contacted Ergon Energy this week but was told the outages could not be rearranged.

"This is a health hazard," she said.

"It's the vulnerable people I'm concerned about.

"Heat exhaustion is bad, especially for elderly people."

But Ergon Energy spokesman Rod Rehbein said rescheduling the outages, which had been planned for several weeks, could cause more damage in the long run.

"You think it's one outage in one location on one day, and it may seem reasonable that we could look at rescheduling," he said.

"But if we take that approach across the entire network, we could never deliver our maintenance program.

"People would be having unplanned outages because the work wasn't done."

Mr Rehbein said the exact weather conditions could never be predicted in advance.

"These were planned weeks in advance," he said.

"Customers were notified at least a week before."

Mr Rehbein said it would have been wrong to cancel the outages at the last minute.

"If we were to cancel at the last minute, these people who have made arrangements would get home to find the power did not go out and they would have the further inconvenience of another outage," he said.

"It's just not a practical thing to do."

Mr Rehbein said anyone with a life-threatening condition who needed a constant supply of power had been contacted by phone well in advance to allow them to make alternative arrangements.

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