50,000 still without power as storm SOS sent to army
Ausgrid has asked the NSW government to back a request for the Army to help clear debris from weekend storms as close to 50,000 properties remain without power.
Energy Minister Matt Kean last night said he "fully supported" the power company in its bid for help from the Australian Defence Force and said he would fast track the process.
The scale of the debris clean up - with huge trees and powerlines down - is hampering Ausgrid in the reconnection work, even with an addition 200 electrical technicians called from interstate.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Ausgrid wants to submit an official "ADF task request" for the work to be done.
Such a call to the defence force for help on a large scale is unprecedented in NSW.
Protocol requires the NSW government to sign off on the request to the army, with Ausgrid formally asking NSW to do so late last night.
In a statement, an Ausgrid spokesman said "we have asked all levels of government for assistance, specifically in the form of extra tree clearing resources".
Mr Kean said: "Ausgrid have told me of their request to get extra support if it's available from defence, which I fully support. I have asked our state department to fast track the process and do everything they can to work with the federal government on this request quickly."
Federal government defence sources were not aware of the request on Tuesday night.
The safety of the public is our number one priority. Crews are working to make safe 2,400 hazards - like this snapped pole in Neutral Bay. There are wires down in many places - please do not approach them, always assume fallen powerlines are live and stay at least 8metres away. pic.twitter.com/LEr1eatXNA— Ausgrid (@Ausgrid) February 11, 2020
Ausgrid says it wants power reconnected within a week, however government sources fear the process will drag without the army's help.
One resident told Mr Kean on Tuesday they believed they would be without power for a month.
The cry for help comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison sent thousands of army reservists into NSW to assist with bushfire clean up last month.
Ausgrid has come under fire from unions over claims of staff cuts after the NSW government sold half the electricity asset.
However, Ausgrid stated in December that its employee ranks remain above the 3570 benchmark set by the NSW government when it put job guarantee legislation in place.
In Hornsby Heights last night, Marc and Dominique Middlecote were "camping out" with their children Luc and Layla. They have been without power since Sunday.
Mr Middlecote said that Ausgrid hadn't told the family anything about when power would be restored.
"It would be nice if they'd let us know what's happening," he said.
"We don't know when it'll come back on."
Ms Middlecote said that the area suffered outages "every time there's a storm."
AUSGRID RESTORES POWER TO 90,000
Ausgrid restored power to 90,000 homes and businesses on Tuesday morning but another 50,000 remain in the dark after the one of the worst storms to hit the network in decades.
Sydney's north and the Central Coast were being urged to prepare for power not to be restored until the end of the week as crews work on snapped trees and poles which have "extremely damaged" the network.
"At Ourimbah - 1 of the 2,400 hazards crews are working to make safe before we can turn power back on. Safety is our number one priority,' Ausgrid said.
Since Sunday, more than 200 customers around Tempe, Marrickville, St Peters and Mascot have had no power, along with parts of the eastern suburbs, including areas in Bronte, Waverley and Woollahra.
Crews were also working to clear 920 electrical hazards and repair power lines brought down by large trees blown over.
The Bureau of Meteorology forecast heavy rains, strong winds and damaging surf late on Tuesday along the entire NSW coast, including in communities ravaged by fire on the state's south coast.
The Ausgrid outages map shows areas among those left without power include: Bankstown, Bondi Beach, Peakhurst, Katoomba and Liverpool.
Suburbs without power:
Western Sydney - Hebersham, St Marys, Mount Druitt, Guildford, Kings Park, Peakhurst Heights, Peakhurst, Hurstville, Oatley, Penshurst, Mortdale, Riverwood, Punchbowl, Padstow, Bankstown, Narwee, Beverly Hills
North Western Sydney - Kenthurst, Glenorie
South Western Sydney - Rossmore, Austral, Liverpool
South Sydney - Gymea, Miranda, Kirrawee, Sutherland, Sylvania, Kangaroo Point, Sans Souci
Blue Mountain - Katoomba, Warrimoo, Springwood, Mount Wilson, Blackheath, Mount Tomah
Hawkesbury - Yarramundi, Lower Macdonald, Colo Heights
Southern Highlands - Robertson
Eastern Suburbs - Waverley, Bronte, Woollahra, Bondi, Vaucluse, Rose Bay
- Adella Beaini