Melbourne had a massive blackout on the weekend and politicians are back to bickering about who's to blame

Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Hot weather in Victoria left nearly 50,000 homes in Victoria without power on Sunday night, with nearly 20,000 properties on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Geelong, left without power overnight.

Blackouts have continued into Monday afternoon, including the Melbourne suburbs of Altona and South Yarra, as the political fight over who’s to blame ramped up once again.

The state registered record peak demand for a Sunday evening as the temperature topped 38C.

The heat also caused problems on the rail network.

The sudden closure of the 2000Mw Hazelwood power station in Victoria last year raised concerns of potential blackouts this summer, but authorities and the state’s political leaders were quick to point out that yesterday’s problems stemmed from the poles and wires, rather than generation.

Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said demand peaked was around 9,100 megawatts and 46,000 properties were blacked out, “due to a combination of factors”, but supply was adequate, and the Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon confirmed supply was not a problem.

D’Ambrosio said the 5.30pm peak put “additional strain on the electricity infrastructure and that’s what caused the localised outages across parts of the state”.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the problems stemmed from “localised issues in the distribution network and he will look at compensation for householders.

“We will work with companies and we’ll compel them, if we have to, both to look at compensation and to look at improvements in that network,” he said.

The three main supply companies, CitiPower, Powercor and United Energy, said substation fuse faults cause most of the outages. All five supply businesses experienced blackouts in their networks.

But the explanations didn’t stop deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce weighing in with an “I told you so” or two.

The federal government and state Labor governments have been at loggerheads over energy policy since blackouts in South Australia in 2016.

A change late on Monday is expected to ease conditions across the state.

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