Businesses left in the red by blackout

ONE of Byron Bay's busiest trading days was shut down yesterday by a power blackout that affected 1600 homes and businesses.

The blackout was caused by a faulty insulator at the Ewingsdale substation, according to Mike Hely from Country Energy.

Mr Hely said the power went down about 1.40pm and was reinstated about 3.30pm.

Less than two hours, but still long enough for businesses in the town to lose thousands of dollars in pre-Christmas trade.

Shoppers were turned away from some stores which were unable to carry out transactions as their tills were not working.

Diners were also left to fend for themselves as the blackout shut down restaurants across the CBD.

Holly Leckie, restaurant manager of Fresh Restaurant Cafe in Jonson Street, said the business was reduced to serving cold drinks.

Ms Leckie said the restaurant lost close to $2000 in the two hours it was unable to serve meals.

She said while the gas cookers were still operational, they could not be used because the extractor fans were not working in the kitchen, so the restaurant would have filled up with smoke.

“Sunday is our busiest day of all. We had to send our casual staff home to ensure we didn't run into a big loss. It's frustrating, but there's nothing you can do about it,” she said.

Yesterday's blackout was a virtual carbon copy of a blackout which occurred in Byron Bay's CBD for about an hour the previous Sunday morning.

Yesterday, the blackout did not affect businesses on the western end of town, but police were called to the Commonwealth Bank in Jonson Street, where it was reported the power-operated doors had become unsecured.

A security guard was stationed at the bank until a key holder could be found to come in and lock up the bank.

Back at the beachfront, The Beach Hotel closed its bar for about half an hour.

Bar manager Wayne Van Handel said at one stage there were about 20 people in the bar, whereas normally there would be about 300.

The hotel's kitchen also had to be closed.

“Two hours in prime time Sunday, that's a lot of lost customers and business,” Mr Van Handel said.



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