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Lightning strikes right where it hurts the whole of Warwick

STORM BREWING: Blackout occured due to freakish lightning strike.
STORM BREWING: Blackout occured due to freakish lightning strike. David P. Lewis

THIS week's blackout reminded Warwick residents of the fun we have to look forward to this storm season.

The good news is, it's unlikely the entire city will be powerless next time lightning strikes.

Ergon Energy's Corporate Communications Manager Rod Rehbein said where the lightning struck on Monday was "freakish".

"The power supply interruptions in Warwick and surrounding communities arose as a result of a relatively brief, but very intense storm that passed over the Darling Downs mid-afternoon," he said.

"Direct lightning strikes on aerial earth wires near both the Warwick bulk supply substation and the East Warwick substation had a major impact on the network during the storm.

"The force of the lightning strikes broke aerial earth wires at both locations and these wires then fell on to the high-voltage lines underneath, causing the network protection system to operate as intended to immediately cut the power supply."

So, basically, lightning struck in the worst possible place in relation to energy infrastructure.

Mr Rehbein said the lines between the Warwick bulk supply substation and both the East and West Warwick substation were affected, along with two of the feeder lines out of the East Warwick substation.

"As a result, all 4200 customers normally supplied from the West Warwick substation had their power interrupted from 3.16pm until 8.39pm when repairs were completed," he said.

"In the case of East Warwick substation, power was restored to some of the 5000 affected customers prior to crews undertaking repairs by reconfiguring the network so they could take supply from other feeder lines.

"About 2000 customers were supplied from the Stanthorpe feeder around 5pm and a similar number were supplied from another feeder line about 6.30pm."

Mr Rehbein said with the upgrades to the Warwick network in recent years, it was unusual for both the East and West Warwick substations to be out of operation at the same time.

"If either substation had been fully operational, it would have been able to supply the majority of customers from both substations temporarily while repairs were undertaken," he said.

Topics:  ergon energy power outage warwick



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