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On 6 May 2022, the Electricity Distribution Network Resilience Review (Review) Expert Panel completed its final recommendations report and provided it to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

The Victorian Government initiated the Review in response to the June and October 2021 storms. The Review ran from September 2021 to May 2022, over 2 phases.

The Expert Panel made 8 recommendations (35 including sub-recommendations) that contain a comprehensive set of reforms designed to reduce both the likelihood and impact of prolonged power outages.

The Government Response to the Review (Response) supports the vast majority of the Expert Panel’s recommendations to boost network and community resilience, including creating obligations for electricity distribution businesses to propose Network Resilience Plans to strengthen resilience; Victoria to submit a request for a change to the National Electricity Rules to embed resilience in economic planning; and introducing new emergency management obligations.

Implementing the supported recommendations will mean electricity distribution businesses are more proactive when responding to damage to their networks caused by extreme weather, and that Victoria is better prepared for storms and severe weather events in the future.

Read the 8 recommendations in the Review:

Read the response to the Review:

Phase 1 Recommendations

Phase 1 resulted in 8 recommendations for operational improvements and information sharing during energy emergencies. Phase 1 of the Review was designed so that the 8 recommendations made were to be implemented ahead of summer 2021-22.

Actions to deliver these recommendations were underway by the end of 2021, and before the second major storm event which affected Victoria in October 2021.

Phase 2 Recommendations

On 15 February 2022, the Minister for Energy and Resources commissioned an Expert Panel to lead Phase 2, to investigate long-term reforms to the state’s electricity distribution network.

Phase 2 of the Review looked at how electricity distribution businesses can improve their preparedness for, and response to, prolonged power outages that are caused by storms and other extreme weather events, which are increasing with the impacts of climate change. The Review also looked at ways to improve community resilience during prolonged power outages. The Expert Panel consulted broadly with stakeholders and local communities impacted by the June and October storms and undertook an analysis of Australian and international regulatory approaches and strategies to address the increased impact of hazard events on electricity distribution network resilience.

Recommendations 1-3 seek to reduce both the likelihood and impact of prolonged power outages. This includes introducing obligations to require electricity distribution businesses to proactively invest in mitigating the risk of prolonged power outages.

Recommendations 4-8 seek to reduce the impact of prolonged power outages through actions undertaken in preparation for and during an outage event.

Small generator program

During the June and October 2021 storm events, the Victorian Government provided small generators to households affected by prolonged power outages. The Expert Panel found that the costs and risks associated with small generators are significant.

The Expert Panel recommended that the then Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, now the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), divest its fleet of small generators, noting that electricity distribution businesses should continue to explore the use of larger portable generators in support of the network during outages, and rolling out stand-alone power systems or microgrid systems to areas of their network at high risk of prolonged power outages.

The Victorian Government does not support the complete divestment of the small generator program. The government will continue to manage the small generator program and consider how issues with the program as currently configured that were identified by the Expert Panel can be addressed.

New directions power to minimise the impact on consumers during prolonged electricity outages

In recognition of the Expert Panel's findings, the Victorian Government has introduced a new direction power to the Electricity Industry Act 2000 to ensure customers affected by prolonged power outages receive timely and accurate information from their electricity distribution business on restoration activities and outage status.

This new direction power allows the Secretary of DEECA, or their delegate, to direct electricity distribution businesses to provide customer information or support during and after a prolonged power outage.

Examples of information that electricity distribution businesses could be required to provide include:

  • The location of power disruptions
  • The estimated time for the distribution business to restore power
  • Information relating to Victorian Government relief schemes.

The change also allows the Secretary of DEECA, or their delegate, to direct electricity distribution businesses to assist with relief programs, to enable relief funds to reach their customers in need.

Delegates of the Secretary of DEECA within the emergency management framework include Regional and Incident Controllers.

Any directions given to distribution businesses are published on the energy website.

Page last updated: 11/04/24