February 11, 2018 / 5:54 AM / 3 months ago

Australian power suppliers pay out over January outages

MELBOURNE, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Power companies in Australia’s second most populous state will pay A$5 million ($3.9 million) in compensation to households hit by electricity outages during a heatwave in late January, the Victorian state government said on Sunday.

About 50,000 households lost power on Jan. 28, some for up to 30 hours, as temperatures topped 40 degrees C (104°F), overloading the power grid in the southern state.

Affected households would be eligible for a one-off payment of up to A$180 each, to be funded by Powercor, CitiPower, United Energy, Ausnet Services and Jemena, the government said.

The payouts come amid a fierce debate in Australia over energy costs and reliability amid a push towards renewable energy, although the Victorian blackouts were caused by grid failures, rather than supply shortages.

In a joint statement, the five power companies said they were symphathetic to people who lost power during the “oppressively hot and humid conditions”.

“We recognise the inconvenience and discomfort this has caused our customers, particularly those who were without power for a sustained period of time,” the statement said. ($1 = 1.2802 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Alana Schetzer; editing by Richard Pullin)

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