What Happens When a Local Transistor Goes Down?

Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 18 August 2023

Just before an important Matilda football game, we lost power to our house lights and internet connection. What happened next?

During the Incident

Checking Local Facebook Group

Although I detest Facebook and I’m ready to delete my account. It is useful in emergencies. I checked my local suburb group.

A local resident posted this message:

Update. Transformer blew on Samford Rd opposite the Retirement Village. Samford Rd all lights out from Dawson Parade to Water Park.

Anyone where and what that was? Transformer? Streetlights were out in Keperra but sounded closer to Mitchy.

A Facebook message.

The residents were able to use technology to update everyone else who was in the group.

Some people made jokes to lighten the mood. Other people kept their messages brief and informative. Residents said it sounded loud and others heard a big bang!

Others commented that their lights flickered but were still on. Some close to the incident said they could hear sirens. Someone was upset as their dinner was in the oven!

One brave soul took a photo of the location. Others talked about brownouts. It seems to have been a transformer that was set on fire. The real cause remains a mystery.

The rest of the messages just added to the gossip and rumours.

Checking the DownDetector Website

I immediately check the DownDetector website on my mobile phone. The DownDetector website promises “real-time problem and outage monitoring. We tell you when your favourite services are down or having problems.”

For example, I can see coloured graphs for Telstra, Gmail, National Broadband Network (NBN), Vodafone, Optus, Roblox, St. George Bank, Twitter, ANZ Australia Bank, Instagram, PayPal, Commonwealth Bank, Microsoft 365, Foxtel, TPG Telecom, Facebook, Bank of Melbourne, YouTube, Dodo, Exetel, Amazon, Australia Post, Spotify, iiNet, Westpac, Belong, Google Meet, National Australia Bank (NAB), Uber Eats, YouTube Music, MyGov, Call of Duty, MYOB, Amazon Prime Video, Bank SA, Discord, Netflix, Google, Microsoft Teams, Reddit, Madden (EA Sports / NFL), Tesla, Hulu, Crunchyroll, Canva, Ticketmaster, EA, Snapchat.

There is a search bar where you can enter “Which service are you having problems with?” and then press the 🔍 red search tool button.

Test Messages and Email Notifications

During the incident and one day afterwards, I received text and email messages from my internet provider and mobile phone company.

Checking the Energex Website Power Outages

You can check the Energex website to see what issues are happening in your local neighbourhood.

Energex Website Power Outages

The Energex Website Power Outages webpage has some options for self-service 24/7 online services:

  • Report a Problem: Faulty streetlights
  • Report a Problem: Trees growing in powerlines
  • Report a Problem: Graffiti/vandalism
  • Report a Problem: Network damage

However, in this instance, it was more useful to look at the sections on Report a power outage and Outage Finder.

You can use the Energex Outage Finder map (updated every 15 minutes). Allow your location. Your home will flash as a purple dot. The Australian maps are based on ESRI data. You can use it like a Google Map.

During the outage, an area on the map was highlighted in a light orange-red to stand out. The Exergex map is overly cautious. We were outside the red area and our street lights were out.

If you work in the building, construction or electrical industry, then you might like to Register for SMS text notifications or email alerts for power outages in your area.

3 electrical grid pylon in Canada
Image Credit: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

After the Incident

I checked the Energex Newsroom for updates. I found some informative updates. Energex released a media release warning people not to attach signs to power poles.

“We have no idea what state the person who tried to post the sign was in because they fled the scene, but their actions could have been fatal or at least led to severe burns.

“We have network protection in place for the community’s safety, but that does not mean it’s okay to interfere with electrical assets.

“It is mind-blowing that anyone would risk their life to attach a sign to a power pole.

“They’ve also caused disruption to the community as power was cut to more than 1000 customers, who remained without power while crews fixed the damage,” Energex Area Manager Kevin Lavender said.

He said illegal sign posters were not only risking their own safety and causing unnecessary disruption, they create additional risks for Energex crews working on the electricity network.

“Imagine turning up at work to discover someone had left rusty nails, screws and staples half-driven into your workspace and how dangerous that’d be for you – this is exactly what our crews are facing,” Mr Lavender said.

Energex Contracts Coordinator Arturo Erazo said the risk was growing with an increasing number of advertising signs being illegally tacked up on power poles across the state.

“What the people who put up these signs don’t appreciate is that our crews often have to climb these poles at night and during severe weather in pouring rain with low visibility.

“The nails, screws and the signs themselves can easily rip into our crews’ protective clothing and skin, putting them in a very dangerous situation.

“Some of these backyard operators also don’t know that attaching signs to our power poles isn’t just dangerous and a huge waste of public resources – it’s also illegal and can attract fines of more than $6000 under state legislation,” he said.

One Week After the Incident

I was out of bread, so I popped down to my local cafe to grab breakfast and a coffee. I overheard the staff talking about it to a customer. They admitted they had lost some food. As a result, they were forced to buy new supplies.

For more information, around bushfire preparedness head to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website, or your local state or territory website.

In the event of a fire always dial triple zero.

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