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February 2024 storm-related power outages

On Tuesday 13 February, extreme weather resulted in power outages across Victoria.

Crews are actively working to restore power to these areas, clearing vegetation to make the areas safe before replacing poles and repairing fallen powerlines.

To ensure your safety, please do not approach fallen powerlines and call the faults and emergency number on your electricity bill.

Keep cool and stay safe during a power outage

Warm weather was experienced on Thursday 22 February across the state and in areas that were affected by the storm on Tuesday 13 February.

If you are without power, it’s important to know how to stay cool on hot days.

Here are some things you can do:

  • wear loose-fitting clothing and stay hydrated
  • keep doors and windows closed to keep cool air in
  • consider placing towels under doors to block hot air draughts
  • close curtains to keep cool air in and hot air out. Use blackout or heat blocking curtains if you can
  • wait until the temperature drops (usually in the early morning or evening) before opening doors and windows. This will move cool air into your home and trap it if there are hotter days ahead.

Strong winds forecast later in the week may lead to further disruptions to powerlines. This includes the possibility of branches falling on powerlines, posing a potential safety risk.

Following an emergency, powerlines may still be live and can be fatal. Please follow these precautions:

  • stay well clear of fallen powerlines or anything they may be touching.
  • call your local electricity distributor – or the faults and emergencies number on your most recent electricity bill.
  • don't attempt to remove or prune trees that have fallen on powerlines yourself.

Prolonged Power Outage Payment

The State and Federal Governments are providing financial relief to households and businesses that have been without power for 7 days as a result of the extreme weather event on Tuesday 13 February.

AusNet are supporting the delivery of this relief payment to customers in its electricity distribution network.

Subject to the below eligibility criteria, the Prolonged Power Outage Payment will give:

  • $1,920 per week for households for up to 3 weeks, depending on the length of time the household is without power.
  • $2,927 per week for small businesses for up to 3 weeks, depending on the length of time the business is without power.

For claims related to food spoilage, please see Ausnet claims

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the Prolonged Power Outage Payment, residential customers must:

  • have a residential electricity account that is registered against a national meter identification number (NMI) for the AusNet electricity distribution network (electricity account holder)
  • be an electricity account holder of a property that remained without power for a total of 7 days within a two-week (14 day) period due to the 13 February 2024 severe weather event in Victoria
  • have not applied for, or received a Prolonged Power Outage Payment, for an electricity account that is registered against the same NMI in relation to the same period
  • made an application to AusNet in the specified form, by no later than 11.59pm on 10 April 2024.

Please note, there will be no more than 3 payments per electricity account.

For detailed information and guidance on applying for the Prolonged Power Outage Payment, please refer to the guidelines for residential customers.

Businesses may be eligible if they are:

  • operating from a location that was without power for a total of 7 days over a two-week (14 day) period due to the 13 February severe weather event in Victoria
  • have an annual Victorian payroll of $10 million or less in 2022/2023 on an ungrouped basis*
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 12.01am Tuesday 13 February 2024
  • be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator
  • have not applied for, or received, a Prolonged Power Outage Payment for an electricity account that is registered against the same NMI in relation to the same period

*Where a business is in a payroll group, the payroll eligibility criteria apply to each business in the payroll group. That is, any member of a group with an annual Victorian taxable payroll of up to $10 million in 2022-2023 can apply.

For detailed information and guidance on applying for the Prolonged Power Outage Payment, please refer to the guidelines for businesses.

Applying for the payment

To apply for the payment, complete the prolonged power outage form.

You can also call AusNet’s dedicated storm relief hotline on 1300 561 171 (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm). AusNet’s community engagement team will be available at some local council relief centres to support you. For more information about relief locations, visit VicEmergency.

You will need your National Metering Identifier (NMI) and details of your bank account to receive payment. Once eligibility is confirmed, it will take up to 8 business days for payment to be made.

The Prolonged Power Outage Payment application will be open until 11:59pm on 10 April 2024.

Avoiding scam SMS and email communications

We're aware of scam text messages being sent to customers about the power outage payment. AusNet’s SMS and links will clearly identify AusNet so you can be sure it is legitimate. Never click on any links in text messages if you're unsure who the sender is.

Please visit AusNet’s website for more information about these payments.

Other customer support

Get recovery support

After an emergency, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

Depending on what you need, recovery support can help you to:

  • find services to support your recovery
  • apply for payments
  • progress an insurance claim
  • get legal support
  • get support for your business.

Find out more at vic.gov.au/recovery-support, or call 1800 560 760.

Major event day payment

If your power was disrupted for more than 12 hours during the February 2024 storm event, you are entitled to compensation.

Under the Electricity Distribution Code of Practice, a distributor must make a payment to a customer of $90 if the customer experiences an unplanned sustained interruption of more than 12 hours on a major event day, such as extreme weather or a storm.

This payment will appear as a credit on your power bill from your electricity retailer within two billing cycles of the day your power was out.

Emergency Relief Payment

Emergency relief payments are available for eligible community members whose homes have been damaged by the storms in Victoria.

An emergency relief payment can help you to pay for things you need most, including:

  • food
  • clothing
  • medication
  • accommodation.

Payments are $640 per adult and $320 per child, up to a maximum of $2,240 per eligible family.

You are eligible for a relief payment if:

  • your principal place of residence is an evacuation warning area, or the storm have damaged your home, and
  • you have met immediate relief needs.

If you think you may be eligible for a relief payment, find out more by calling the Emergency Recovery Hotline 1800 560 760.

Recovery Support Program

Emergency Recovery Victoria’s Recovery Support Program is available for people affected by the February 2024 Victorian storms and February 2024 Western Victorian bushfires.

The program can help with tailored support, including access to mental health and wellbeing services, legal support, business advice and other services to support your recovery.

You can access the program by visiting recovery support and filling out the online form.

Financial counselling

Recovering from a natural disaster will take time.

There are a lot of financial decisions to think about straight away, and over the months ahead.

Financial counselling is free, independent and confidential.

A financial counsellor can help you make a plan to manage your money and prioritise your bills and other payments.

A financial counsellor can also talk to creditors on your behalf and negotiate affordable payment plans.

If you get help early, you will have many more options.

Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial advisor. You could also call the:

  • Mob Strong Debt Helpline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - 1800 808 488
  • Small Business Debt Helpline - 1800 413 828

Rural Financial Counselling Service for primary producers and small, related rural businesses – 1300 771 741

Small generator programs

To support residents who have experienced prolonged power outages, a limited number of small generators will be available for those most in need.

Windermere, an independent, not for profit community service organisation, is providing support for the program by contacting customers impacted by the 13 February weather event to discuss and assess residents’ circumstances. As a priority, Windermere has contacted AusNet customers who are expected to be without power for the longest duration.

  • If you do not have a mobile phone, you will be contacted via email.
  • If you are concerned that AusNet do not have your contact details, please call the Emergency Recovery Hotline 1800 560 760.
  • If you are a vulnerable resident and if required, please call the Emergency Recovery Hotline 1800 560 760.

What causes power outages?

Localised power outages can occur for many reasons, including:

  • severe weather such as lightning, floods, heatwaves or high winds
  • trees interfering with powerlines
  • bushfires
  • unexpected technical faults
  • car accidents
  • planned essential maintenance works
  • (rarely) to help balance supply and demand during the peak period.

During extreme weather conditions and on Total Fire Ban days, the risk of localised power outages increases.

To report an outage, contact your electricity distributor or call the faults and emergencies number on your most recent power bill.

Restoring power after an emergency

This is the responsibility of your local electricity distributor that owns and maintains the poles and wires bringing power to your home.

  • You must use a licensed tradesperson for gas or electric work following the effects of a flood or fire.
  • Following storm or fire damage, you should have a licensed electrician check wiring and repair any electrical damage before you reconnect power or switch on appliances. A licensed gasfitter will check gas appliances.
  • You must use a licensed tradesperson for gas or electric work following the effects of a flood or fire.

For more information, visit energy safety during floods

Using generators

  • Get help from a licensed electrician to connect a generator.
  • You must not connect generators to the wiring of your home or perform any other electrical work. It is both illegal and dangerous. Licensed electricians can only carry out this work.
  • Download the Energy Safe Victoria using a generator safely information

Floods and storms

Floodwater damage to your home's electrical circuitry, gas installations or appliances can threaten safety.

  • Your energy distributor can advise you on how to get back up and running.
  • You should call a licensed electrician to inspect your home or building after flood damage.
  • Water affected gas appliances should not be used until inspected by a licensed gasfitter.

Fallen powerlines

Following an emergency, powerlines may still be live and can be fatal. Please follow these precautions.

  • Stay well clear of fallen powerlines or anything they may be touching.
  • Call your local electricity distributor – or the faults and emergencies number on your most recent electricity bill.
  • Do not attempt to remove or prune trees that have fallen on powerlines.

Preventing power outages

Trees interfering with powerlines are a cause of many easily preventable power outages.

You can help to reduce this risk by regularly checking the size and health of trees growing close to powerlines and contacting your local council or electricity distributor for advice.

For more information, visit managing trees near powerlines on Energy Safe Victoria.

Planned outages – be prepared

Before doing any essential maintenance, your electricity distributor will notify you in advance of any planned works and outages.

If notified of a planned power outage, prepare by organising:

  • access to a charged mobile phone or landline that doesn't rely on electricity to operate
  • alternative lighting, such as a torch or a battery-operated light
  • alternative cooking facilities and heating
  • access to fresh water.

Before the scheduled time of the power outage, make sure appliances are turned off.

Unexpected power outages

Be prepared and have a plan to manage blackouts. You may need back-up power if you rely heavily on electricity. Don't rely on power as part of any bushfire preparedness plan.

Remember power outages can also affect phones, radios and water pumps. So, arrange for alternatives that don't rely on electricity supply.

If your power goes out, your energy distributor will arrange for it to be restored.

Find your energy distributor online or call 136 186.

Reporting a safety issue

Report safety issues to your energy distributor. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you can contact Energy Safe Victoria at 9203 9700.

Page last updated: 23/02/24