Monthly Archives: March 2018

More power problems plague Warrandyte

ELECTRICITY consumers in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte have experienced a number of planned and unplanned power outages in the last three months with further planned outages still to come.

Urgent work on critical pole

A spokesman from AusNet Services spokesman Hugo Armstrong has advised the Diary that a wooden power pole in the RSL grounds to the southwest of the bridge roundabout is riddled with termites and has to be replaced as a matter of urgency.

This pole carries 22kV High Voltage (HV) 3-wire cables east and west along Yarra Street and also joins the newly-installed bundled HV electrical cable which spans the river and carries power up Kangaroo Ground Road and to adjoining residential properties.

The work has been scheduled during the day on Tuesday March 20 and a power outage will affect the approximately 500 residents and businesses who were also without power on January 19 and 20 for the bridge works.

This work will be done by AusNet subcontractors.

AusNet advise that they will do their best to keep power on for the businesses in Yarra Street served by this cable, either by means of generators or by reconfiguration.

This job will be particularly tricky as the pole is in a difficult place for access, and while it is intended to keep Yarra Street open there will be complex traffic management issues and traffic delays are expected on March 20.

Further work in relation to bridge widening

To complicate matters further, as a completely separate issue the bridge contractors need further work to be done on the HV cable crossing the river and associated poles.

As a result, the same consumers will have two further daytime planned outages.

That work will be done by licensed electrical subcontractors to VicRoads.

AusNet are insisting that this latter work not be done in March but be spaced out to give long-suffering consumers some breathing space.

All affected customers will be notified in advance of these planned outages.

AusNet have asked the Diary to convey their sincere apologies to the affected customers and emphasise that they are well aware of the inconvenience caused and are doing their very best to minimise disruptions.

Later work

We announced in the May 2017 issue that the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program was completed and this had replaced 3-wire HV powerlines in North Warrandyte areas with bundled cable to reduce bushfire risks.

However, this work did not extend to replacing existing old bundled cable such as that spanning the river.

The works on January 19 and 20 replaced the old bundled cable across the river for about 5 poles up to Castle Road, but we believe that the old cable continues on past that point.

We have come across a statement from AusNet regarding the North Warrandyte power supply: “AusNet Services will replace the remaining sections of HV aerial bundled cable along this line in the coming months.

“No dates have been set as yet, but we will advise affected residents well in advance.”

Recent outages

AusNet Services released a bulletin dated January 18 entitled “Update on North Warrandyte Power Supply” which was sent by text message to all those North Warrandyte residents who had experienced recent power outages and who had a mobile phone number notified to their electricity retailer.

The bulletin lists the causes of unplanned power problems in the previous six weeks including:

  • On December 9, a tree brought down overhead powerlines, which caused an extended fault and required tree clearers, traffic control and construction crews to rectify.
  • On January 6, a 40 degree, extreme fire danger day, there was a burnt out HV overhead cable fault near the bridge, which caused a ‘flashover’ along the overhead wire.
  • On January 11, a possum came into contact with an HV switch on Bradleys Lane, causing an outage, and as a result, the switch configuration has now been modified to prevent further possum incidents.

Additionally, on January 19 and 20 an overnight scheduled outage enabled replacement and rerouting of the HV cable across the river.

The bulletin concludes: “We are optimistic that both the reliability and safety of this part of the community have been enhanced, and you will experience better reliability in the future.”

On March 7, another possum incident caused further unplanned outages.

Mr Armstrong told the Diary “Following the possum incident on January 11 we had hoped that the modifications to the switchgear would prevent further similar incidents.

“Unfortunately, the possums had other ideas and we are now researching further solutions in attempt to minimise possum problems”.

One resident in Aton Street claims to have had a power outage every day between January 4 and 19 and has made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

Unplanned outages and compensation

One of the benefits of the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program completed last year was touted as being that it would improve reliability, a claim which residents are continuing to doubt.

Community frustration is growing at the continuing number of unplanned “recloser trips” being experienced almost on a weekly basis.

The recloser trip is a safety mechanism that cuts power to a localised area when there is an overload or abnormality (such as caused by possum activity) and then attempts to restore power a few seconds later.

This generally causes desktop computers and modems to reboot and causes clocks on microwaves or ovens to flash until reset.

AusNet Services are obliged to comply with a complex list of Guaranteed Service Levels (GSL) which provide for compensation if unplanned outages exceed certain targets in any calendar year.

There is no inclusion of planned outages in the GSL targets, that is those interruptions which have been notified to the consumer in advance, nor any provision for compensation for same, although sometimes ex-gratia payments are made.

The compensation starts at $30 if there are more than 24 momentary interruptions in a year, and $40 for more than 36 momentary interruptions.

Unfortunately, AusNet Services do not provide online access to the service interruption records for any property, and although details can be requested it takes a few days for a response.

The compliance with GSL targets for each residence is evaluated in February each year, and compensation payments where due are advised to the customer’s retailer in March and a credit allowed on the next bill.

However, the point at which the compensation starts is set so high that payments are — relatively speaking — rarely made, and the compensation of $30 or $40 feels like a drop in the ocean when compared with the $400+ fee per year that consumers are being charged for “service to property” before they have even started to consume any electricity.

Thousands turn out to defend Green Wedge

OVER THREE thousand people took to the streets of Eltham in a recent rally to protest the plans for Nillumbik Council to sell 17 parcels of public land.

The Council claims a lack of funding from State government for their plans to extend the Diamond Valley Trail and upgrade other sporting facilities as the reason why they have turned to the sell-off to get their infrastructure projects delivered.

But the community aren’t buying it.

Rally organiser Nerida Kirov from Save Community Spaces told the Diary that this flies in the face of the platform that Mayor Peter Clarke was elected on.

“This Council was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, they chose not to raise rates last year, despite the fact they knew costs would continue to increase”.

She says now Council are crying poor.

“The truth is that the rate of council debt is not high compared to other councils,” Ms Kirov said.

In an open letter to Council, State Member for Eltham Vicky Ward said that government have given Nillumbik Council $22 million dollars in the last few years for public infrastructure projects.

Ms Ward refutes claims that the government has not provided funding for the proposed works.

“The Andrews Labor Government has provided $1.2m for Stage 1 of the trail, an underpass for the rail line at Diamond Creek.

“This is in addition to $2.8 million for the Diamond Creek netball courts, $2.5m for the Diamond Valley Sports and Fitness Centre, $800,000 for Eltham Central Clubrooms and $416,650 for Marngrook Oval.”

Ms Ward called on Council to seek alternative sources of funding, such as from the Federal Government, rather than sell off the urban reserves.

The protesters are at a loss to understand the Council’s urgency to complete these projects.

“We don’t understand the rush to get this all done at once,” said Ms Kirov.

“The land that they want to sell is designated public land in the most built up part of the Shire, land that developers were required to set aside for public use.

“We are not against the walking trail at some stage, but not at the expense of public space,” Ms Kirov told the Diary.

Scholarship gives students a kick start

WARRANDYTE COMMUNITY Bank Branch scholarships for 2018 have been awarded to Eilish Kelly and Annie Marsh-Pearson, helping to supplement their study costs of higher education.

They join Alex Ward who is commencing her second year of scholarship funding whilst attending university in Ballarat.

The Warrandyte Community Bank Scholarship is part of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Scholarship program, which across the network has invested more than $6.5 million into helping 568 Australian students realise their higher education dreams.

Scholarships are awarded to first-time tertiary students whose circumstances might mean that a TAFE course or university degree is otherwise out of their reach, with funding being delivered over the first two years of tertiary study and first year of TAFE.

This is the seventh year Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has offered scholarships, and the first time applications were open to students attending TAFE, validating the Bank’s Board of Director’s commitment to supporting local youth in furthering their education.

“Our branch is proud of these young people looking to further their education by attending TAFE and university,” Aaron Farr, chairman of Warrandyte Community Bank Branch said.

“The calibre of applicants we had for this year’s scholarship highlighted that our young people are an absolute asset to our local community.

“We are pleased that our investment in Annie, Eilish and Alex’s further education will help them focus on their studies and help lay a solid foundation for success,” Aaron added.

Recently the chairman along with branch manager, Cheryl Meikle had the pleasure of meeting these three wonderful young locals when the bank announced its 2018 scholarship recipients.

Following the new protocol this year which has opened up opportunities for students attending TAFE, Eilish is the first recipient of a TAFE scholarship.

She is attending Holmesglen Institute and is studying an Advanced Diploma of Justice, a two year full time course.

She is hoping to end up in the police force or have a career within the justice field.

Annie has overcome major health issues which have had a significant impact on her secondary school years.

She is about to embark on her tertiary education after accepting a place in a Bachelor of Nutrition Science Course at Deakin University.

“I am grateful to Warrandyte Community Bank Branch for helping me to attend university and to follow my passion for paediatric dietetics,” Annie said.

Alex is in her second year at Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Ballarat.

She is continuing with a double degree in Nursing and Paramedicine.

The first year of scholarship funding enabled Alex to enjoy a smooth transition into university life.

It has helped her to meet the costs of living and studying whilst living out of home.

“Moving away from home was a big change for me.

“The scholarship ensured I was able to settle into university life without the added pressure of financial stress.

“I am truly grateful for this opportunity, as are my parents,” she said.

The annual Warrandyte Community Bank scholarship helps first-year university students on their path to tertiary education with a $10,000 bursary over two years ($5,000 each year) or a one off payment of $5,000 for TAFE.

To be eligible, applicants must meet various criteria including residing in the local area, be academically motivated, involved in the community and be able to detail financial or social challenges which hinder their ability to undertake further study.

Where potters come out to play: Warrandyte Pottery Expo turns 18

THE 18TH ANNUAL Pottery Expo was held on the Warrandyte riverbank on the weekend of February 24–25, with an extensive list of almost 60 exhibiting potters, local music, wheel throwing demonstrations and workshops on offer.

Local studio potter, and event organiser, Jane Annois, was pleased with the turnout and the success of the Expo.

“We were lucky with lots of visitors, even though there was rain on Saturday,” said Jane, “and Sunday was fabulous, it was perfect.”

“The potters were happy, which is important too, with good sales and a few commissions and orders.”

And although it’s a lot of work, Jane says she wasn’t alone.

“A team of lovely volunteers helped make it a success.”

From the warm welcome I received as I entered, to each interaction with stall holders, I was instantly engaged with the creativity around me.

Local and intrastate potters, with guests from Tasmania and France, had certainly put on a sensory show of colour and natural aesthetics.

Marina Pribaz, a ceramicist from the Daylesford region and joint winner of the Innovative New Ceramics Award (INCA) summed it up nicely.

“Everyone is so individual; we all work with clay but it expresses in so many ways,” she said.

‘Cups to Go’ was my first stop, where a collection of cups and mugs from many of the exhibiting potters were available for sale, with the idea that you would purchase a handmade cup that took your fancy and then head over to the nearby coffee van for a fill.

Diane Williams, a potter from Central Victoria and a volunteer on the stall said,

“It’s a really good idea.

“It collects the diverse range of works from the potters in one place, and you get to enjoy your coffee in a beautiful mug.”

So I took my time choosing and then walked the stalls sipping coffee, keeping an eye out for the maker of my new mug while I chatted with some of the potters.

Exhibiting for their fourth year, Ali Duckworth and Karen Goldsmith make up the Clay Sisters in Croydon.

They enjoy coming to the Expo to connect with other potters as well as visitors.

“It’s lovely to catch up with other potters that you only see once a year,” said Ali.

“Pottery can be a solitary life and I think it’s important to have these kinds of things, to see what everyone is doing and connect.”

Josephine Cassar, from Montmorency, mentioned the importance of being part of a group of potters.

“We meet twice a week and have become a small community.

“I go for the company and to share ideas, we have a communal meal and chat and talk pots.”

Other exhibitors also mentioned the value of the network created by the Expo, saying how they appreciated coming back each year, catching up with people, and that the relationships built over the Expo are integral to their work.

Two awards are presented each year at the Expo, and this year’s judges were visiting ceramicists, Nanna Bayer and Bronwyn Clarke from Tasmania.

The Michael Hallam INCA award for innovative new ceramics, presented by the Warrandyte Riverside Market, was awarded to joint winners Marina Pribaz and Minna Graham, and the Lions Club award for the best stand was presented to Kim Haughie.

All three ceramicists are from the Daylesford region and have been exhibiting at the Pottery Expo for several years.

Kim Haughie said winning the award was a beautiful surprise.

“It’s a bit exciting,” she said with a big smile.

Kim’s work as a potter started over 10 years ago, but she says it all started much further back.

“I think it was seeded in my childhood.

“I spent hours in the sandpit, and then later, as I got into gardening, it went from there.”

Kim has a dam on her rural property and said: “Digging down deep I found clay; it’s lovely using the clay from my own property — my surroundings and my environment influence my work”.

Minna Graham, has been coming to the Expo for seven years and says that being a joint winner of the INCA is really affirming.

“I spend so much time on my own, at least eight hours a day just sitting in my studio, on my own, doing my thing, making my thing.

“You come here and you are surrounded by your peers and you really get some fantastic feedback.

“It makes you feel you are on the right track.

“This weekend is bolstering for me; it just makes me keep going.

“It’s the reset button for me every year.”

Jane Annois also likes discovering and supporting new musicians for the event and was very pleased with this year’s line-up.

“They were all good quality, local musicians, and there was a good feel about the place all weekend,” said Jane.

Wandering around, it was hard not to stop and listen to the music, and a nice patch of grass made the invitation to sit awhile even more appealing.

Nearby was the Manningham Arts Centre and Clayworks stall, where children, and a few adults, were deeply engrossed in painting and etching clay squares.

These terracotta squares will be returning to the community in a few months as a permanent piece of art for the community to enjoy.

Further along I came across French ceramicist, Jean Marc Plantier, who 20 years ago was part of the original idea to bring the Marche de Potiers (Potters Markets) of France to Warrandyte.

Jean Marc has been attending the Pottery Expo since it began in 2001 and clearly loves the river and the surroundings, and what has become of their idea.

“It’s a wonderful place,” said Jean Marc, “I like coming, and I will come again and again.”

Of course you will Jean Marc, for without you and Jane, we would not have such a glorious event.

Next year, Jean Marc will return with five other French potters, and as more and more local potters are applying to be part of the Expo, Jane says we can expect an even greater variety in the work.

Thank you Jane and Jean Marc, for you have brought something beautiful to our place.

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March 2018

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