Revealed: Suburbs to be hit by power outages
Grave fears are held for the reliable power supply of major hospitals and aged care sites during the coronavirus crisis - and vital repairs to prepare the network over coming weeks will cause thousands of residential blackouts across Sydney.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal thousands of homes will be cut off from power for up to 13 hours - 3000 homes in the first week alone - as Ausgrid completes vital maintenance and repair work to ready the network.
The outages will throw the city into chaos, with thousands of people working from home and with full freezers - but this was considered a better option than risking major long term outages in coming months.
It comes less than two months after some residents were left without power for a week following storms - a disastrous outcome which Ausgrid does not want repeated at hospitals.
The company also fears power issues could get even worse if its own staff numbers are thinned by the virus.
Ausgrid would not confirm which major health sites it was attempting to protect from outages as it did not want to spark panic.
"We've had to make some crucial but sensible decisions to do whatever work we can to protect important services such as hospitals, nursing homes and essential businesses," Ausgrid chief Trevor Armstrong told The Daily Telegraph.
"Put simply, this work is critical. We can't delay because if we did that, it would put future power supply at risk. That's a risk we're not willing to take during the pandemic.
"A few hours of short-term pain now could mean the world of difference later if we were to experience extensive damage to the network or impacts from COVID-19."
Notifications to power customers have stated that the outages will last between 7 and 13 hours but the work will avoid the days-long blackouts experienced in recent months due to storms.
It is understood there is no direct impact to the Ausgrid workforce by coronavirus at this time but the company is preparing for the inevitability that some staff will become unable to work.
The work will complete critical repairs where there is a risk of a major fault or outage in future and connect new customers.
Mr Armstrong said staff were working around the clock in coming weeks to get the work done.
"We must prioritise work that will maintain grid reliability and the security of electricity supply. We must also continue to connect new customers, it's a key part of keeping economic activity going in NSW," he said.
Originally published as Revealed: Suburbs to be hit by power outages