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Businesses count cost

THE businesses that suffered from last week’s electricity crisis covered the full spectrum, from manufacturers and lawyers through to restaurants and retailers.

Sweaty shirts were standard fare in most offices around Perth, with some people choosing to dispense with ties, shoes and socks to try and cope.

In the city, only a few buildings, such as Woodside Plaza, QV1, Exchange Plaza and Forrest Centre, had generators with sufficient capacity to continue running air-conditioning and other vital building functions. 

Many businesses housed in older CBD buildings were forced to send their employees home due to the heat.

Ironically, Western Power lifted the power restrictions at 1pm, soon after many people finally gave up trying to be productive.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA estimated the cost of the power cuts to be in the “tens of millions” of dollars.

Director industry policy Bill Sashegyi said a big part of the problem was the confusion surrounding the power cuts.

Despite rumours of Western Power inspectors patrolling St Georges Terrace, the government utility did not issue any fines.

Some businesses took their chances, continuing to operate.

“We just couldn’t afford to close down,” one business owner told WA Business News.

“This is our peak time and we’re going flat out trying to fill customer orders.”

Sandalford Caversham Estate was hosting 22 Chinese and Hong Kong journalists and travel agents on a promotional tour.

Sales and marketing manager Kylie McVeigh had to explain why the wine tour needed to be cut short.

“It was a situation where we had to do what we were told or face a $10,000 fine,” Ms McVeigh said. “I explained the circumstances and that this was enforced on us and they thought it was a bit strange. It wasn’t very good at all.”

Ms McVeigh said Sandalford’s wines had not yet been put in tanks and it was a stroke of good luck that they were not doing any fermenting that day.

For some businesses, the problems started before Wednesday’s power restrictions.

Rod Henderson of Tieline Industries in Malaga said his firm lost all power at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, forcing him to shut down and send staff home. “It’s an absolute outrage,” he said.

 

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