Energy Minister Mark Bailey is urging residents in cyclone-affected areas of Queensland to be mindful of the dangers of fallen power lines, solar PV systems and generators.
Minister Bailey said solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are connected to the normal power supply in homes and businesses and can continue to generate power even if mains power has been disconnected.
“If your roof has been damaged, don’t go on the roof. The roof could be ‘live’ as solar PV panels can continue to generate power when mains power has been disconnected,” he said.
“Solar PV systems are as much an electrical safety risk as mains power and households and businesses should treat solar modules and their cables as if they are live.
“If you have any doubts, or your roof is damaged, I strongly urge households and businesses not to try to operate any switches as any moisture could cause the solar PV systems to become live. There is the risk of a serious or fatal electric shock even if mains power is disrupted,” he said.
Minister Bailey said residents and businesses should contact their installer or a licensed electrical contractor to test the PV solar system to ensure that it is safe after any roof damage.
“While a number of people in cyclone-affected areas are relying on generator power, it is important to note that these too, are not without safety risks, and require the utmost care,” he said.
“Generators produce carbon monoxide gases. This deadly gas is invisible and odourless. Always ensure there is adequate ventilation when operating a generator. Keep generators well away from open windows to ensure deadly exhaust does not enter your home or your neighbour’s home.
“Ergon Energy strongly advise customers not to plug their generators directly into power points or into any part of the electricity network. This sends electricity into power lines above and below ground and is a major risk to field crews working on power lines, and nearby local residents who are cleaning up around fallen power lines. Run them outside the house, never inside a garage.”
The Minister has also warned residents to stay well away from fallen power lines. Assume they are ‘live’ and dangerous. Importantly, report any fallen power lines to 000 or 13 16 70.
Mr Bailey also paid tribute to Ergon Energy staff and Energex staff who have been working hard to restore power supplies to cyclone-affected parts of the state.
“It’s going to take at least a week if not more to restore power to households and businesses, given the extent of damage to the electricity network. It bore the brunt of a Category 5 cyclone,” he said.
“Small towns in outlying areas may take even longer for power to be restored. Ergon Energy staff have been working tirelessly to reconnect supplies as quickly as possible. The day after the cyclone struck, power was restored to 8,000 homes and businesses.
“Their efforts so far have been commendable,” Mr Bailey said.
To report a fault, please phone 13 22 96. For life-threatening emergencies, phone 000 or 13 16 70.